This is the latest of Palestinian unilateral action. And like a leaning row of dominoes, one by one, European countries are falling for it, with Sweden, Ireland, France, Portugal and Spain – just to name a few – all passing resolutions within the last four weeks independently recognizing Palestine.
You might wonder why these unilateral moves are a bad idea. Here are five reasons why.
1. Despite various plays at unifying the governments of the West Bank and Gaza, no such unity exists. And the split isn’t merely geographical. So what’s going to happen when Israel withdraws? Hint: Gaza, 2005 and the subsequent civil war between Hamas and Fatah. Not to mention the unceasing rocket fire from Gaza on Israel.
2. Hamas. Not one of Abbas’ plans, nor those of the Arab League, propose how to deal with the terrorist organization (despite the EU’s recent claims to the contrary). Hamas’ charter repudiates Israel and it has never strayed from that position, despite the naïve hopes of many in the international community trapped in a Field of Dreams-like mindset, ‘if you wish it, it is true.’
3. At a time with the Middle East is rife with rogue terrorist groups endangering the region and the globe is rewarding unilateralism the message the international community should be sending? Especially considering the uptick in violence against Israelis. Palestinians may feel that they have been left with no other options, but that doesn’t mean the recent resurgence in violence should be rewarded. What message does that send to the likes of ISIS?
4. Rewarding intransigence. Palestinians may rightfully have many grievances, but blaming Israel for a lack of commitment to negotiation is not a legitimate one. Over the years, Israel has demonstrated its will for coexistence by agreeing to deals that offered the Palestinians a viable state. Each deal was rejected by the Palestinian leadership. This is not to say that during these various negotiations, Israel didn’t sometimes also pursue policies that angered Palestinians. In the Middle East, what matters are actions, not words, which could explain Palestinian distrust – if only hadn’t time and again proven its commitment to coexistence by withdrawal from Gaza, Hebron and other key areas in the West Bank. Not to mention, the peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt. Will there ever be a time when Palestinians and Israelis don’t denigrate and/or antagonize each other? Probably not. But is it possible to have a cold peace, to agree on land swaps and borders? Absolutely yes.
5. Growing anti-Israel related anti-Semitism in Europe. During Operation Protective Edge, Jews were barricaded in a French synagogue; in Switzerland, calls were made in social media to go the Jewish neighborhood en masse and “bash their faces in;” in Antwerp, Jewish customers were refused service in shops. Now is the time to strengthen security for these Jewish communities, not to strengthen those who hate them.