Since my last post concerning Brazil’s recognition of Palestine along 1967 borders, fellow South American countries have followed suit. Argentina recognized the Palestinian state a few days later and Uruguay gave hints that it will offer formal recognition in January. Moreover, it seems as though the set of recognition dominoes might continue to fall. Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Salvador might also recognize Palestinian in the near future, according to Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath. Abbas is said to have spoken with Greece as well about possibly pushing West European countries to offer recognition (though it seems as though France is out).
[tweetmeme] Palestine is overtly pushing for a unilateral declaration of statehood and attempting to secure the international recognition that goes with it. Despite the growing recognition of 1967 Palestine (in the above map the dark green represents those countries that have formally recognized 1967 Palestine), I still question the wisdom of his push for international recognition.
Reza Aslan thinks that the path towards statehood is more easily achieved in this unilateral (as in, including the entire world, but not Israel) means of recognition. Aslan predicts that if enough countries recognize Palestine, the United States will be forced not to use its veto in the Security Council:
Obama claims the U.S. will veto any such vote. Let’s call his bluff. Let’s find out if this president is ready to stand utterly alone on the world stage as the sole head of state refusing to recognize the existence of a Palestinian state just so he can appease an ally, Israel, that over the last year has repeatedly gone of out its way to embarrass his administration and stifle his attempts at achieving a two-state solution.
Andrew Sullivan wants more; have the US join in recognizing Palestine and offer original bridging proposals. Unfortunately, for Sullivan and Aslan, can anyone imagine the US recognizing Palestine, or even not blocking such recognition? As the Palestine Center’s Yousef Munayyer put it, America is used to defending the indefensible for Israel:
However, a truly international domino effect, featuring state after state recognizing Palestine, would undoubtedly raise the pressure on Israel to end the occupation or face increased isolation in the international community. One could easily envision a situation where more countries recognize Palestine, with the last eventual holdouts being Israel and the United States – a duo that is often left standing alone at the U.N defending the indefensible.
Perhaps a sign of things to come is that the US unequivocally rejected the South American countries recognition as “severely misguided” and “regrettable.” Considering the attacks on Brazil in the US Congress following the recognition, it is not difficult to imagine the US and Israel being the lone countries withholding recognition of Palestine. There are obvious downfalls to this strategy. The Israeli occupation will only end when Israel wants it to end and the US will always be protecting Israel’s diplomatic back in the international sphere. Indeed, international recognition is more symbolic than anything.
Yet what does international recognition actually symbolize for the Palestinians? Sure it means that the West Bank and Gaza would constitute a Palestinian state, but more importantly, it revitalizes the Israeli denial of the Nakbah of 1948. Any two state solution will have one major Israeli precondition: no right of return for Palestinian refugees of 1948. Furthermore, the two state solution is completely premised on the assumption that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict finds its roots in 1967. To recognize Palestine along 1967 borders is to play an active role in the erasure of the catastrophe, in which 531 Palestinian localities and villages were ethnically cleansed, destroyed and buried under the guise of heroic Israeli nationalism.
Unfortunately, international observers do not seem to understand the emotional resonance that 1948 holds for all Palestinians. In 2001, when Arafat rejected a substantial two state peace plan because it did not include the right of return, he was castigated in the US and Israel for not wanting peace. He wanted peace, but he also wanted justice for the over 7 million dispossessed refugees that are scattered across the Middle East. The Right of Return for Palestinians is sacred. It is not something that can be negotiated away nor can it be denied. It is a right that is enshrined in the UN, under Resolution 194:
(The General Assembly) Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.
It is clear that Israel will continue to postpone this legal right of Palestinians, a right that could be indefinitely postponed should a two state solution be forged. International recognition of 1967 borders certainly symbolizes the illegality and brutality of the Israeli occupation (as well as the American failure to remain neutral), but it uses the Israeli line as a foundation for peace. If Brazil and Argentina truly support the rights of Palestinians, there would be a greater push to recognize the Palestinians’ Right to Return, rather than burying this right under 1967 recognition.
Photo from Wikipedia