Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

Italy’s Misguided Push for Palestinian Statehood

The Kotel (Photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash)

In a move that left everyone scratching their heads, Rome has executed one of its classic ‘Italian Jobs’. Italy’s Lower House has approved a majority motion urging the government to “support, in appropriate European and international forums, initiatives aimed at recognizing the State of Palestine within the framework of a negotiated solution based on the coexistence of two sovereign and democratic states, which can mutually recognize and live side by side in peace and security.”

Voting Declarations and Tensions

The majority presented a single motion, which the government supported, while opposition parties each presented their own motions. The debate was heated, reflecting the deeply divided views on the recognition of Palestine. The Five Star Movement (M5S), an anti-Zionist force, chose not to participate in the vote, protesting what they called the government’s “farce,” accusing it of engaging in “beautiful words and commitments but then consistently failing to follow through” when it comes to international votes.

Taking the opposite stance, the League Party voiced strong opposition to the motion, highlighting the potential risks of recognizing a Palestinian state. The office of the League’s parliamentary whip issued a statement declaring that such recognition would “reward Hamas, helping it to consolidate its position in those territories,” cautioning against the unintended consequences of such actions.

Left-Wing Perspective

During the debate, the center-left proposed defining the situation in Gaza as a “humanitarian catastrophe,” a term the majority sought to replace with “crisis.” This substitution was not accepted by either M5S or The Green-Left Alliance (AVS), a far-left force equally anti-Zionist, who expressed their discontent vociferously. The office of AVS’ parliamentary whip chastised the government, asserting that “without the recognition of the Palestinian State, there cannot two states for two peoples” and calling for immediate recognition as an actionable step.

The Democratic Party (PD) condemned the government’s response to the situation in Gaza, describing it as an “apocalypse” rather than a catastrophe, and criticized the government for “conducting a war against an entire people rather than focusing on terrorism,” a rather perplexing assertion.

Majority’s Stance

The majority, emphasized the need for mutual recognition and an end to rising antisemitism globally. The office of Brothers of Italy’s (FdI) parliamentary whip expressed concerns over unilateral actions by countries like Spain, Ireland, and Norway to promote Palestinian recognition without a unified European stance, advocating for continued diplomatic efforts to support the two-state solution.

Ignorance and Empty Rhetoric

This move by Italy’s Parliament is not only ill-timed but also conceptually flawed. While the left openly embraces anti-Zionist sentiments, the majority continues to spout empty rhetoric about a two-state solution. This discourse lends legitimacy to terrorist attacks reframing Hamas’ jihadism as “resistance to occupation,” ultimately undermining Israel’s security and feeding anti-Zionist feelings. It demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the complex dynamics at play in the Middle East. By endorsing such a stance, Italy risks fueling further conflict rather than fostering the peace it so idealistically preaches.

Why a Palestinian State is a Risk Israel Cannot Afford

While the idea of a two-state solution has been heralded by many as the ultimate path to peace, a closer examination reveals substantial risks and flaws in this approach. Establishing a Palestinian state is not just impractical; it is dangerous for Israel’s security, stability, and future.

First and foremost, the establishment of a Palestinian state poses an existential threat to Israel’s security. History has shown that concessions and withdrawals by Israel are often met not with peace, but with increased violence. The withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 is a stark example. Instead of fostering peace, it led to the rise of Hamas, a terrorist organization that has launched thousands of rockets into Israeli territory. A Palestinian state in the West Bank could similarly become a launchpad for terrorism, with Israel’s major cities within striking distance of terrorist rockets and mortars.

The current Palestinian leadership, split between the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, is fraught with internal conflicts and corruption. The PA, led by Mahmoud Abbas, has not held elections in over a decade, and its governance is marred by accusations of human rights abuses and financial mismanagement. Hamas, on the other hand, is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel. The absence of a unified, stable, and peace-oriented leadership makes the prospect of a peaceful Palestinian state highly dubious.

Creating a Palestinian state could have destabilizing effects not only on Israel but on the broader Middle East. It could embolden extremist groups in neighboring countries and create a power vacuum that hostile entities might exploit. Furthermore, it might encourage irredentist movements in other regions, thereby contributing to greater instability across the Middle East.

Historical and Legal Claims and an Alternative Solution

From a historical and legal standpoint, the land of Israel, including Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), has been the homeland of the Jewish people for millennia. The San Remo Conference of 1920 and the Mandate for Palestine established the legal right for Jews to settle in these areas. Ignoring these rights undermines the historical connection and legal claims of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland.

Instead of pursuing the flawed two-state solution, the international community and Israel should focus on improving the lives of Palestinians through economic development, infrastructure improvement, and political reform within the current framework. Enhancing cooperation and creating a climate of mutual respect and coexistence can pave the way for a more stable and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

A Leap into Chaos

The notion of a Palestinian state, while appealing to some as a straightforward solution, is fraught with danger and impracticalities. Israel cannot afford to compromise its security and future on an uncertain and potentially perilous venture. It is crucial to acknowledge the complex realities on the ground and pursue a path that ensures safety, stability, and prosperity for all residents of this land. Palestinian statehood, under current circumstances, is not the answer. Instead, we must seek alternative solutions that uphold the security and sovereignty of Israel while promoting genuine peace and cooperation in the region.

Recognizing a Palestinian state isn’t a step toward peace; it’s a leap into chaos.

About the Author
Giuseppe Levi Pezzulli ("Bepi") is a Solicitor specialised in International financial law and a foreign policy scholar. His research interest is economic statecraft. In 2018, he published "An alternative view of Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), which investigates the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. In 2023, "Brave bucks" (Armando Publishing House), which highlights the role of private capital in the industrial policy mix. Formerly an Editor-in-Chief of La Voce Repubblicana; is a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; a pundit for the int'l financial TV channel CNBC; and a Middle East analyst for Longitude magazine. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD). He stood for a seat in the UK Parliament at the general election 2024.
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