Over the past few months we have seen a growing trend of Latin American countries declaring that they recognise a free Palestine within the 1967 borders (see more). These countries now include Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela and Chile. This has arisen directly as a result of an aggressive campaign by the Palestine Authority to push through unilateral independence, meaning that the PA is to have a state without negotiating over numerous important and complex issues such as security and borders, mutual recognition, settlements, economic co-operation, conservation and water management i.e. without the Palestinians making any concessions whatsoever to Israel.
And of course, it leaves out entirely Hamas which has ruled Gaza for almost three years after it removed the PA in a short but bloody coup and continues to call for Israel’s destruction.
On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the West Bank city of Jericho where he declared, “we remember that Russia was one of the first states in the world to recognise the state of Palestine in 1988.” He continued, “Russia made its choice a long time ago… we supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent state with its capital in east Jerusalem” (see more).
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat declared that it was “an historic move to make the Palestinians proud for a very long time to come”. He stated that “we appreciate the Russian recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders whose capital is east Jerusalem” (see more).
It is not clear if that is exactly what Medvedev said. He was making it clear that the Russian position has remained unchanged since the late 80s, which is that they support the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state. He stated, “Everyone – the Palestinians and Israelis – will benefit from the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
That sentiment is true, but Erekat seems to have heard only what he wanted to hear as he and the PA continue to plough on in the belief the independence can come by just cutting Israel and her citizens out of the picture entirely as if the Palestinians bear no responsibility whatsoever in the pursuit of peace.
Interestingly, the same approach is being promoted by the Palestinians through the BDS Movement and by extension, through disparate groups including the Greens-controlled Marrickville Council which has adopted a complete boycott of Israel (without consulting its own citizens) and which has sister city ties with the Hamas-controlled city of Bethlehem where Christians have been leaving in droves over the past decade.
The PA and the BDS movers and shakers plough on relentlessly with their attempts to deligitimise Israel, based largely on lies, half truths and the simple whitewashing of Palestinian terrorist groups including Hamas itself. They ignore the damage that boycotts would have on the Palestinian economy and that would ultimately impede the peace process by bringing it to a complete standstill (I know – we’re close to that stage at the moment anyway).
As we have all read before, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas envisions his future Palestinian state completely void of Jews (apparently not a problem for the proponents of BDS and the Marrickville Councillors). He declared in late 2010, “we have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it” (see more). Perhaps the Latin American governments might ask him what he plans to do therefore with hundreds of thousands of Israelis currently residing in his “state” in the absence of a negotiated peace agreement with Israel? Treat them like the dwindling number of Christians in Marrickville’s sister city … or worse?
It is not wrong to hope and pray for the day that peace will come to the Middle East, or to wait for the day when the two states can live side-by-side. But it is a mistake to believe that there is any other way through this situation than through honouring existing commitments such as putting an end to incitement and by proceeding by way of honest negotiation on both sides.