Recognising a Palestinian State

Margallo and Palestine: An indecent proposition

If talks are currently at a standstill, it is due largely to the fact that Palestine’s leaders have chosen the unilateral path instead of negotiating. They want to impose from outside the negotiating table what they refuse to discuss at the table.

2014-11-18 by Rafael Bardaji

On 18 January 2012, having recently taken office as Foreign Affairs Minister, García Margallo volunteered to give the welcome speech at the Samuel Hadas Awards Ceremony, organised by the Israeli Embassy in Spain and presented at the regional government’s headquarters. He opened with the traditional “I am a great friend of Israel”, a statement that was fine in theory but which, according to some attendees, he spoiled by adding “I am not in favour of a boycott against Israel”. It would be inadmissible for a member of our Government to align with the devious and unfair campaigns that aspire to make Israel a pariah state and to turn the Jews into the lepers of the XXI Century.


But the truth is that a European proclaiming himself to be a “friend of Israel” sends a shiver down the spine. And this is no different in the case of a Foreign Affairs Minister. Quite the contrary.


Tomorrow, a non-legislative motion will be debated and voted upon in Parliament, presented by the socialist group, pressing the Government to immediately recognise the Palestinian State. Until the day before yesterday, Spain’s official stance was that, in the words of Margallo himself, such recognition would only occur if it contributed to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. However, this weekend he corrected himself and announced that Spain will recognise the Palestinian State “when there is conviction that negotiations are not progressing”.


If this phrase repeated by a number of media and commentators is correct, I can only conclude that our Foreign Affairs Minister is an absolute fool, a devious manipulator or a political coward. Or all of them rolled into one.


Let us consider this. To think that to recognise the Palestinian State today could contribute towards a peace agreement tomorrow is to be unaware of past talks, current reality and future prospects. In fact, it reflects total ignorance of what is cooking in the region. If talks are currently at a standstill, it is due largely to the fact that Palestine’s leaders have chosen the unilateral path instead of negotiating. They want to impose from outside the negotiating table what they refuse to discuss at the table. It was not Israel that rejected the generous framework agreement drafted by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, but the so-called Palestinian Authority (and it was not Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert who fled from an agreement in the past, but Arafat and Abbas himself).


Consequently, unilateral recognition of the Palestinian State would not favour peace but would reward leaders who refuse to sit down with the Jerusalem government to hold serious negotiations. What is more, it would strengthen the position of the most radical parties who believe only in force and not in negotiation. In the end, they would get what they want thanks to European “useful idiots” (to use Lenin’s phrase, now that he is back in style in Spain).


An ineffective measure, because it rewards the people that do not wish to negotiate while logically punishing others who advocate the Oslo path, on the basis that a lasting peace agreement can only arise through mutual agreement. This was pointed out yesterday by García Margallo’s German counterpart in Jerusalem, the socialist Frank-Walter Steinmeyer. Obviously, our Government is sure to have been busily occupied with Catalonia’s independence and will not have had time to read it.


Secondly, it is indecent and immoral to try to present oneself as an actor or impartial bystander or mediator who does not wish to favour one side over the other, when this is in fact the objective. The Spanish minister can ignore the actual situation on the ground, if he wishes, but he cannot turn a blind eye to details that are not at all irrelevant. Such as, for example, the fact that the strength of his words will not lead to the birth of the Palestinian State overnight and, in fact, punishes Jerusalem from a symbolic viewpoint. This is clearly the case. I do not know if Margallo would like Obama to flog him for not managing to recover Gibraltar, but that is basically the direction he has taken in this matter.


Moreover, Margallo cannot set aside the fact that the current Palestinian Government is based on an agreement with and is explicitly supported by a group, Hamas, that is classed by his beloved EU as a terrorist organisation. A group whose indiscriminate and genocidal terrorist activities should be taken before the International Criminal Court. If it were not for the collaboration between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hamas would today be governing the West Bank (or Judea and Samaria). Does our minister love the state so much as to not care whether it is governed by terrorists, is not democratic or is founded on family corruption? In view of the generosity with which he pledges our money, I would like to hear his reply.


Finally, his statements may be only a political tactic to get closer to the PSOE; he might not believe a word he says and his words are perhaps directed at the problematic elections that are on the horizon. It would be a pity. A revolting shame. At a time when the entire Middle East is in flames, when our southern neighbours could fall under the influence of the most radical jihadists (we must not be distracted from the fact that the Islamic State’s caliph has taken under his wing organisations in Morocco, Algeria and Libya), when an image of strength is desirable in order to crush Iran’s nuclear ambitions… is this the time to abandon our only ally in the region? Particularly if it is to gain a few votes or, even worse, because he has to face the PSOE in Parliament.


I believe that it is time to say no to the PSOE; to say no to anti-Israeli demagoguery; to say no to Spanish left-wing and right-wing anti-Semitism; to say no to Palestinians who dazzle us while promoting slow-motion intifadas. If the minister Margallo wants peace between Israelis and Palestinians, he should be denouncing information manipulation, incitement to violence, the fight against jihadism, including Palestinian jihadism, and supporting people that want a dialogue, not rewarding the enemies of peace talks.


But he will not. For a simple reason. Spain’s foreign policy is still rooted in the guidelines drawn up by Zapatero. An example of this is Cuba and the forthcoming visit to the island for new contacts with the regime. Or Venezuela, where we seek only not to offend the intolerable Maduro. No. Unfortunately, Spain’s current government has not returned to the moral stance that was voted for by millions of Spaniards weary of Zapatero. This is why Spain will sooner or later recognise a Palestinian state that does not exist and will not exist, and our decisions will only makes its possible future existence even more complicated. The fair punishment that awaits us is Palestinian recognition of Catalonia. We will deserve it.


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