Towards the recognition of peace

These last weeks have brought us reports on the recognition of the State of Palestine. From Sweden’s official announcement of its full recognition to the decision of some European parliamentary members to urge their governments to follow suit, along with the declarations of the High Representative of the EU, we are witnessing encouraging decisions and positions in favor of a matter that should have been resolved years ago.

Everything seems to indicate that the Spanish Parliament will vote a resolution in this sense tomorrow – a proposal made by the Socialist Group -, and that the resolution, with all probability, will have the unanimous support of the House. Notwithstanding, recognizing the Palestine State is nothing new and, for that very reason, the Spanish and European public opinion must remember that, in May of 1999, Europe adopted the Declaration of Berlin, in which Europe agreed to recognize the State of Palestine when the moment came. Well, it seems like the moment has arrived, and that this transcendental political decision may be adopted over the upcoming months. I remember that is was my duty to negotiate it as the envoy of the European Union in the Peace Process in the Middle East, and I cannot forget the difficulties and obstacles which I encountered at that moment; years in which the European nations only declared their intention to recognize the State of Palestine, without ever setting a date or making a final decision.

Today, the circumstances have changed and it is worth the while to attempt to explain why the moment has arrived, and why all the actors involved in this process must adopt and defend this decision favorably, as an inspiring step towards peace. I believe that we need to dismantle the opposing and defensive arguments that will hinder this recognition. First and foremost Israel, staunchly supported by the United States and some submissive European countries, firmly reiterates, albeit without reason, that recognizing the Palestinian State would be a unilateral act that contravenes the spirit and the letter of the peace negotiations. For these interlocutors, the Palestine State can only be created and recognized as a final result of the negotiations. This reasoning is inexact, both in form and content. All the parties, including Israel, the United States, the European Union and the Security Council, defended the solution of two States. Wasn’t the unexpected and brave decision, taken on May 14, 1948, of Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion that established the State of Israel and demanded its international recognition a unilateral one? Why is this decision not considered unilateral and yet the recognition of the State of Palestine is deemed as such? Why not vote and legitimize the aspirations of a whole nation, granting them their rights to be a state with the ensuing rights and obligations? On the contrary, I believe that the declaration of the State of Palestine would help resolve the pending negotiations on equal footing. What does the Palestine nation need to do to have its right to be a state recognized? Aren’t the thousands of documents, resolutions and declarations accumulating in the archives of the United Nations and in all the ministries around the world enough to definitely resolve the Palestinian cause?

Those who oppose its recognition argue the division between the West Bank and Gaza, and defend that this separation does not guarantee Palestinian cohesion and unity. But, can’t we see that President Mahmund Abbas is doing everything possible to unite and control all the Palestinian movements and forces? Why are we not assisting him on this task with a historical undertone? Some affirm that if there is not a clear definition of the borders, it is not possible to recognize a State. But, does the State of Israel have a clear delimitation of its borders? Has this lack of definition regarding its territory hindered its international recognition? It is true that Palestinians want guarantees as regards what are to be their definite borders and, for that reason, Palestine has presented a resolution to the Security Council requesting it set a date to end the occupation of the occupied territories since 1967, because Palestine sees this as a necessary and complementary element to the recognition process of the State of Palestine.

All these reasons are not enough, because there are many others that favor Israel. Its State would stand to gain if it were to recognize Palestine and their borders were definitely established. And this is the negotiation that is absent from the resolutions adopted in London, or that may be adopted in Madrid and Paris. The recognition of the State of Palestine could be the needed diplomatic instrument to unblock the dramatic impasse. We must offer Israel what I call the double recognition process. Europe, the United States and Israel must recognize the State of Palestine, and the Arab world must recognize the State of Israel. This would be the diplomatic proposal needed to get all the parties to sit down at the negotiating table. To do so, we must revive the Arab Initiative for Peace, and promote a serious negotiation over the next months, with a maximum term of a year. At the end of this time, we would have achieved peace and the double recognition would take place or, if negotiations failed, each State would freely, as per its sovereign will, make the decision to recognize a nation that has spent almost one hundred years fighting for its historical dignity, and the Palestine State would be freely established and internationally recognized. Most probably, the path of recognition would lead Israel and Palestine to peace.