Published in The Times

Recognising a Palestinian state now will thwart hopes for peace


 Hamas and Islamic State are part of the same Islamist front.

2014-10-25 by José María Aznar and Members of the Board

 The Palestinian state doesn’t exist yet and the only structures in place that may resemble a functioning state are controlled by the terrorist group Hamas.


Nevertheless many countries are today indulging in a “recognition now” policy towards a putative Palestine. On October 3 the Swedish government announced that it would recognise Palestine as a state. And the British parliament voted on October 13 to approve a motion recognising Palestine “alongside Israel”. Although more than half of MPs did not cast a vote, the result was conclusive: 274 to 12.


We should expect similar moves to these across Europe. No matter how well intentioned these initiatives are, recognising a Palestinian state now is inappropriate, counterproductive and unwarranted. It will not promote peace and it will not boost a negotiated solution. This is why:


First, recognising Palestine will induce the Palestinians to stray from a negotiated solution, given the fact that a hard line has got them this far.


Second, feel-good statements will not change reality on the ground; rather they will rather encourage the Palestinian Authority to continue a static strategy in the negotiations — thereby promoting stalemate in the talks. The Oslo Accords, signed by both sides, commit them to negotiation as the way to reach an agreement. Declarations such as these will only turn the path outlined by Oslo into a chimera, pre-empting the peace it is supposed to produce.


Third, these initiatives unfairly put pressure only on Israel. The Jewish state, harassed by neighbours and terrorist groups, has persistently offered concessions to achieve a fair agreement, only to see the Authority refuse any compromise.


It was Mahmoud Abbas who failed to accept the recent US framework document accepted by Israel. It was Mr Abbas who demanded unacceptable concessions from Jerusalem, and it was Mr Abbas who reached a unity agreement with Hamas, just three months before the Islamist group began a massive series of rocket attacks on Israeli cities.


Fourth, Israel is today a bulwark against jihadism and western countries need the support of Israel against this and other threats to global security. Recognising Palestine as a state is also an implicit approval of the agreement reached by Fatah and Hamas. As Hamas and Isis are parts of the same Islamist front, the West should not legitimise an entity that would be formed by one of them.


Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that earlier this month at a conference in Cairo Palestinians were pledged $5.4 billion by international donors for the reconstruction of Gaza. Only half of that money will be dedicated to the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, according to the Norwegian foreign minister Borge Brende, who co-chaired the conference. No one knows what the other half will be spent on. If the funds are received by a Hamas-ruled government in Gaza, it is more than likely that they will be used to consolidate Hamas’s power, amass more rockets and build more tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.


The Friends of Israel Initiative has always claimed that peace can only be reached through negotiations. Recognising Palestine as a state in the face of Hamas’s attacks on Israel is detrimental to peace. Therefore we call on all responsible leaders of free nations to reject unilateral moves that only reward one side. We call on leaders to urge both parties to resume direct bilateral talks. If we want to have a democratic, free, peaceful and prosperous Palestinian state alongside Israel, recognising an entity that is far from democratic, free, peaceful and prosperous will only thwart any possibility that any such state will exist in the future.



José María Aznar is a former prime minister of Spain and founder of the Friends of Israel Initiative. José María Aznar is a former prime minister of Spain and founder of the Friends of Israel Initiative.


This article is also signed by:


John R Bolton, former US representative to the UN
Giulio Terzi, former foreign minister of Italy
Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico
Alejandro Toledo, former president of Peru
Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan
George Weigel, senior fellow of the US Ethics and Public Policy Center
Fiamma Nirestein, Italian politician, journalist and author
Andrew Roberts, British historian
Roberto F Agostinelli, founder of the Rhône Group
Lieutenant-Colonel Allen B West, former US congressman
Carlos Alberto Montaner, exiled Cuban author and journalist
Carlos Bustelo, former industry minister of Spain

Rafael L. Bardají, Executive Director, Friends of Israel Initiative 

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