An independent Palestine isn’t now a viable state

Smoke rises above southern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas
Smoke rises above southern Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas

When Norway, Ireland and Spain announced their intention to recognise a Palestinian state, they no doubt believed that they were acting in the best interests of the Palestinian people. As Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris remarked when explaining what he called an “important and historic” decision, his desire was to send “the Palestinian people a message of hope that in this, their darkest hour of need, Ireland stands with them”.

Similar sentiments were expressed in Madrid and Oslo, with Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez declaring the move “an essential requirement if we are to achieve peace”, while Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide said it was “a special day for Norway-Palestine relations”.

By formally recognising Palestinian statehood, which involved months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, these three nations believe that they will help to generate diplomatic momentum towards implementing a ceasefire in the seven-month-old Gaza conflict, as well as securing the release of Israeli hostages still held by Hamas.

Precisely how they intend to achieve this objective is a moot point, given that the most notable impact of their joint declaration so far has been to further alienate Israel, which has withdrawn its ambassadors from all three countries in protest.

From the Israelis’ perspective, recognising Palestine while they are involved in a bitter conflict with Hamas, responsible for carrying out the October 7 attacks, simply rewards the Palestinian terrorist group for committing diabolical acts of rape and murder. The depth of Israel’s anger was evident from the video its foreign minister Israel Katz posted on social media after the recognition announcement, showing flamenco dancing and music juxtaposed with the explicit images of the October atrocities alongside the heading: “Hamas: thank you Spain.”

In many respects, the move amounts to little more than a token gesture because, while many countries recognise the principle of a Palestinian state, there is also an acceptance that the establishment of a fully-functioning, independent Palestine will not be achieved until comprehensive peace talks are convened to resolve the long-standing Israel-Palestine struggle.

It is for this reason that the American and British governments, while sympathetic to Palestinian aspirations, say they will hold off from recognising Palestinian statehood until a long-term political solution to the Middle East conflict is agreed.
This makes sense, not least because, so long as Hamas remains a dominant force in Palestinian politics, there is little prospect of the Palestinian people being able to form a government that would garner international support. Even well-meaning, if naive, countries like Norway, Ireland and Spain might balk at the prospect of recognising an independent Palestinian state that ends up being run by the leaders of an Islamist death cult like Hamas.

They might also want to consider the motivations of other countries that have recognised the state of Palestine – South Africa chief among them.

Back in the 1990s, when ANC leader Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected black leader, world leaders were almost unanimous in supporting his fine vision for creating a “rainbow nation”. His main objective was to develop multi-racial democracy after the oppression the majority black population had suffered during decades of apartheid rule.

But the overwhelming and honourable desire to support change in South Africa blinded many Western leaders to the ANC’s venality and corruption, with the result that the movement has subsequently presided over the ruination of this once thriving nation.

When South Africans went to the polls in yesterday’s general election, their mood was grim as they contemplated a country that now boasts among the world’s highest rates of unemployment and inequality, constant power cuts, water shortages and spiralling violent crime. So much for Mandela’s vision of transforming South Africa’s fortunes for the better.

It is perhaps to distract attention from this woeful state of affairs that the ANC has taken the lead in seeking to denounce Israel’s involvement in the Gaza conflict, with South Africa instrumental to efforts at the International Court of Justice to condemn Israel for supposedly committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Instead of such cynical manoeuvring, the international community should be honest about the challenges inherent in the Palestinians achieving statehood, not least the need to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to make certain that an independent Palestine is a viable Palestine.

Such an outcome certainly remains unlikely so long as Hamas, which thinks nothing of using Palestinian civilians as human shields and hospitals and schools as command centres for its terrorist operations, remains a serious contender to administer an independent Palestinian state.

Rather than indulge in dangerous virtue-signalling, well-intentioned world leaders who want to achieve their goal of Palestinian statehood should first make sure that the Palestinian people are no longer oppressed by the malign designs of Hamas terrorists.