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Israel's Far-Right Shift Key Factor In European Nations Recognizing Palestine: Expert

24.05.2024 13:42

Most far right government in Israeli history, continuous settlement expansion and settler violence sends a message that Israel has ‘no interest in peace,’ says Yossi Mekelberg of Chatham House ‘Recognition can contribute towards advancing a sustainable post conflict solution for Gaza,’ according...

The recent move by European nations to recognize Palestine as a state will have wider repercussions for Israel and the far-right elements within its government and society, according to experts.

Ireland, Spain and Norway plan to formally recognize a Palestinian state next week, and more European nations are expected to follow suit in the coming days.

"This issue of Palestinian statehood has been discussed for many years. I think what accelerated it recently is the war in Gaza, and all of a sudden, the Israeli-Palestinian issue is back on the table," Yossi Mekelberg, an associate fellow at Chatham House's MENA Program, told Anadolu.

With their announcement, these European countries have sent a "signal that leaving this conflict unattended has dire consequences," he said.

"One of the ways to deal with it is to change the dynamic in the relations between the Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

"A lot has to do with the Israeli government (led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), which is the most far-right in the history, the continuous building of settlements, settler violence, which sends the message to the international community that … the government has no interest in peace."

The three countries have their own different ways and reasons to recognize Palestine, but the common thread could be an attempt at "breaking the deadlock," he said.

"It needs to be broken by changing the balance of power between the Israelis and the Palestinians, by making negotiations between a state and state, and not between a state and an organization," Mekelberg added.

Israel, on the other hand, is "trying to spin it as a sort of a reward for Hamas or something that will derail any future peace process, which I think is not the case," he said.

"If all sides read into this, what they should read into this is that it can actually enhance the chances of peace," he added.

On the US position on the issue, he said there are divisions between Washington and some EU countries.

He pointed out that the American veto remains the only obstacle to Palestine being getting the UN Security Council's backing for full membership.

"I think when it comes to Palestinian statehood, the US, not only with the EU but internationally, is quite isolated in its opinion," said Mekelberg.

'Advancing a sustainable post-conflict solution for Gaza'

The decision taken by Spain, Ireland and Norway is the outcome of "growing coordination to advance a credible political track to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza and support Palestinian self-determination," according to Hugh Lovatt, senior policy fellow with the MENA Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

"Recognition can contribute towards advancing a sustainable post-conflict solution for Gaza … Without strong political support for Palestinian self-determination, any post-conflict political efforts for Gaza will lack legitimacy," he told Anadolu.

"Recognition will provide further European impetus to exclude and sanction Israeli settlements – including potential setting the scene for a push by 'like-minded' countries for an EU ban on settlement products and financial services."

Lovatt expects more countries to recognize Palestine in the future.

"Slovenia has indicated it will follow suit by June 13 once its parliament votes on the subject. Other European countries such as France and Belgium are contemplating similar moves, though this does not appear imminent," he said.

He said European governments are also "responding to domestic public pressure to do more to support Palestinian rights."

"So it is good foreign policy and good domestic politics," he said.

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will see this as a victory for his "internationalization strategy launched in 2011," but many Palestinians will view it as "symbolic" and "without concrete action for a cease-fire in Gaza and hold Israel to account over its violation of international law and settlement policy."

More EU countries could try to 'clear their names'

Spain, Ireland and Norway are all countries that had been pressing Israel to stop its deadly attacks on civilians in Gaza, said Tugce Ersoy Ceylan, an associate professor at the Izmir Katip Celebi University.

"Since international organizations did not take a sanction decision within the context of international law, they may have decided to take such a path to make a stance," she told Anadolu.

"This unilateral symbolic recognition may have come to not remain a spectator, even if it is late."

Ceylan does not view the move as "progress towards resolving the Palestinian issue," but said it was significant that "the right of Palestinians to establish a state, which had been forgotten and condemned to the status quo of unresolved issues, is being brought up again by significant Western states."

She said this would also not lead to "any immediate pressure on Israel to sit at the negotiating table," adding that "Netanyahu is determined not to compromise."

The expert said a wave of recognition by other countries is unlikely, but "it would not be surprising if EU governments … developed other formulas … to clear their names." -

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