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Luiz Gandelman
(He/Him) Unapologetically Jewish, Latino, Israeli, Zionist, and Liberal.

Why Israel must recognize Palestine at the UN

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13:  US President Bill Clinton (C) stands between PLO leader Yasser Arafat (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin (L) as they shake hands 13 September 1993 at the White House in Washington DC. Rabin and Arafat shook hands for the first time after Israel and the PLO signed a historic agreement on Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. (Photo credit: J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: US President Bill Clinton (C) stands between PLO leader Yasser Arafat (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzahk Rabin (L) as they shake hands 13 September 1993 at the White House in Washington DC. Rabin and Arafat shook hands for the first time after Israel and the PLO signed a historic agreement on Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. (Photo credit: J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images)

The horrifying war Israel is currently engaged in, the captivity of the hostages, the international condemnation of Israel, and the diplomatic recognition of Palestine by Ireland, Spain, Norway, and Armenia serve as a stark reminder. The days of Oslo, of Arafat and Rabin shaking hands, and of Israelis and Palestinians living in a certain harmony have been long gone, de-facto nonexistent since the Intifadas many years ago. These violent uprisings by Palestinian terrorists, including the October 7th Massacre, only stoked the flames of distrust, creating a rift between Israelis and Palestinians, even the more dovish sectors of the two, isolating those who want peace as a radical minority amid a careless majority. 

A fact little acknowledged, however, is that among the 28 states that currently do not recognize Israel, one key one is missing. The State of Palestine. As a component of the Oslo accords, the State of Palestine, represented by Fatah in the UN as an observer State, officially recognized the existence of Israel, becoming, ironically, one of the first Arab countries to do so. 

Albeit minute, there is a willingness to coexist displayed by the Palestinian Authority in this recognition, and even more so in the fact that they have not withdrawn said recognition, a simple act they could have done amid any of the numerous armed conflicts between Israel and Palestinian armed terrorists. 

Their reasoning for not openly expressing strong support for these groups, such as Hamas, is simple. There is a significant rift in the Palestinian Political world, where Mahmoud Abbas rules essentially as a powerless dictator, remaining in power since 2005, well beyond his term, but actually having very little say over the day to day life of West Bank Palestinians, and virtually no say over the day to day life of Gazans. 

Still, Abbas’ government has policies such as the “pay to slay” policy, and is an offshoot from the Arafat government that started the Intifadas deliberately. Regardless, these contingencies pale in comparison to the savagery and evil seen in the alternative Palestinian government, Hamas, which has been the leading offender of massacring Israelis in recent years, with wars breaking out regularly in the Gaza Strip, creating the same endless feedback loop. 

In this cruel cycle, Israel gets attacked, Israel fights back with force and a disproportionate number of civilians die, the entire world condemns Israel, countries sever diplomatic ties, antisemitism abroad grows, and the Palestinian terrorists lose the war, but gain more press and pity empathy they could have ever wished for, giving them the gusto to regroup and attack again.

This culminated on October 7 with the largest massacre of Jews and Israelis to date in one day since the Holocaust. Considering how many Israelis and consequently innocent Palestinians were killed, and how many were taken and are still held hostage, it is clear this cycle needs to be stopped. Doing exactly what we did since 1967 is far from the solution, as in 57 years it has barely done us any good.

Spain, Ireland, Norway, and Armenia recognizing Palestine as a country unilaterally and without Israeli input is a cause for concern, but it is also a wake up call. Most of the world, and even the Arab league are open that they want Israel to accept a two-state solution, and it is clear that a two-state solution is the key to ending the international scapegoating and attacking of Israel, and the way to bring a stable peace to the region. 

What the move by these four nations in their recognition of Palestine shows, is that the world won’t wait for Israel. If more countries follow suit, soon an even larger majority of the world will recognize Palestine as a state, doing so unilaterally, a slap in the face to Israel, who should be consulted on Palestinian statehood to achieve a fair, equitable solution that works for both Israelis and Palestinians. If Israel continues sitting idly by on this issue, and even flirting with the idea of annexation, even strong allies of Israel, notably in Europe, may follow suit and see Israel as not wanting peace, leading to Israel not being in the room where the discussion of Palestinian statehood is taking place.

Being in that room is crucial, as it is the key to working out how to repair relations between the two peoples, and how to create a political and human solution that will bring security to Israel and freedom to Palestinians, the latter of which is always considered in international recognition of Palestine. The alternative is a unilateral development of statehood to Israel’s detriment, with no benefits, concessions, or even mutual solutions in Israel’s interest being considered, as other countries will leave the hawkish Israelis out of these talks for not wanting peace, a message recognition can stifle by showing an openness to a lasting peace.

Flag raising ceremony for the State of Palestine, UN Geneva. 13 October 2015. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré

The main concern about this recognition, however, is that it is rewarding terrorism, or sending a message that violence is the way to achieve one’s goals, a dangerous precedent globally. The explanation to that is simple, however. The Palestinian Authority was not directly involved in the October 7th Massacre, and its leader, Abbas, even went as far as to condemn it, albeit doing so while also accusing Israel of “genocide”. The Palestinian Authority is the official representative body of Palestine in the UN, and controls the West Bank, meaning their statehood and recognition will not in the slightest reward Gaza or Hamas, who are their sworn rivals. It will, actually, give more legitimacy to Fatah as a Palestinian government, further weakening Hamas.

While far from perfect, the PA are possible peace partners, and giving them recognition and further autonomy will send the reverse message: violence doesn’t work.  This message will be clear by the fact that the comparatively tamer West Bank will be on a path to statehood and to living as an independent state,  ideally along ‘67 borders, or whichever ones Israel negotiates with Fatah. Gaza, on the other hand, will be a desolate wasteland where terrorists roam free and humanitarian aid is the only lifeline, as that is the current and terrible status quo in the strip. This will show Gazans, and the rest of the world, that peace is possible, and that the key to it is negotiations, not massacres and mass-kidnappings. It will also give more political legitimacy to Fatah, who currently works with Israel on some issues, instead of Hamas, a terrorist group whose sole purpose is to massacre Jews.

Organizing borders, deciding the issue of settlements, the status of Jerusalem, currency, airports, and countless other issues will be a lengthy and harrowing process in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but one that will ensure Israelis and Palestinians in the future won’t have to suffer through what we are suffering today. 

Change is the only way to repair the status quo, and negotiations are the path to that, but it would all start with a very simple, and mostly symbolic move: reciprocity in recognition, and Israel officially recognizing Fatah as the official representative of the State of Palestine, and thus recognizing Palestine as well towards the UN as a member state.

Yes, it would be symbolic more than anything, but this recognition would ensure Israel still has a seat at the table with negotiations when it comes to Palestinian statehood, Hamas would be viewed as an outcast internationally and treated as the roadblock to peace it is, and Israelis and Palestinians will open the door for future negotiations and an eventual peace, so we can become the neighbors and cousins we were always meant to be.

About the Author
Luiz Gandelman is an 18 year old student originally from São Paulo, Brazil, who lives in Miami, Florida. He is involved with multiple Jewish and secular youth groups and political organizations. Luiz is a big basketball and Star Wars fan and an avid scuba diver. He is also a fan of geography, politics, history, and anything of the sort. Most importantly, he is a proud Jew.