Three European nations to recognize Palestinian state; 'two-State solution only way out of conflict'
Move may trigger global wave, but root cause lies in US' indulgence
Published: May 22, 2024 09:55 PM Updated: May 22, 2024 11:00 PM
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is applauded by MPs and members of the government after delivering a speech to announce that Spain will recognize Palestine as a state on May 28, at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on May 22, 2024.Photo: AFP

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is applauded by MPs and members of the government after delivering a speech to announce that Spain will recognize Palestine as a state on May 28, at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid on May 22, 2024. Photo: AFP

In a historic move expected to quell the flames of war in the Middle East, Ireland, Norway and Spain announced the recognition of a Palestinian state on Wednesday. The move is hailed by Chinese experts as representing an overdue correction of "a previously skewed balance," while bringing the Palestinian question, which had intentionally been obscured before, back to the center stage. 

Experts believe the decision may trigger a global wave of recognition for the state of Palestine, not only in support of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people but it will also exert significant international pressure on Israel's aggressive practices. 

However, they noted that there is still a long way to go for the actual establishment of a Palestinian state, and the root of the problem preventing the realization of the two-State solution lies in the bias and indulgence of the US. 

Ireland, Norway and Spain have all confirmed that the decision will take effect from May 28, the BBC reported. 

"In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Two states, living side by side, in peace and security," said Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, per a government press release on Wednesday. 

The statement adds, "There will be no peace in the Middle East without a two-State solution. There can be no two-State solution without a Palestinian state."

In Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stressed that the recognition "is not against anyone, but in favor of peace and coexistence." While his Irish counterpart Simon Harris said that the decision "is taken to help create a peaceful future" for both the Israeli and Palestinian people. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, commenting on the latest development, said at Wednesday's press briefing that China always firmly supports the just cause of the Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate national rights, supports the two-State solution and is one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine. China's stance on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is consistent.

"We believe the immediate priority is to implement UNSC Resolution 2728, realize ceasefire at once, end the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza and return to the right track of seeking a political settlement of the Palestinian question on the basis of the two-State solution as soon as possible," Wang said. 

China will continue to work with the international community to play a constructive role for ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as early as possible and promoting a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question, the spokesperson said. 

"The three countries' announcement reflects a growing dissatisfaction and concern in the international community regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, particularly on the Israeli side, as its assault has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, intensifying worries about the region's future," Zhu Yongbiao, director of School of Politics and International Relations of Lanzhou University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.  

"Against this background, the decision in fact signifies a process of correction from the previously skewed balance, with more public opinion and practical support now contributing to rectifying the past practices," Zhu said. 

Liu Zhongmin, a professor with the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, believes that as the horrors and sorrows in Gaza have brought the previously marginalized Palestinian question back to the center of Middle Eastern affairs, more countries are pushing the implementation of the two-State solution, not only to safeguard the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, but also to provide a long-term peace and security solution for Israel as well.  

One of the reasons that the announcements came at such a point is that, on May 11, the UN General Assembly voted by a wide margin to approve a resolution granting Palestine new rights and reviving its UN membership bid. However, the US has made it clear that it will block Palestinian membership and statehood "until direct negotiations with Israel resolve key issues."

The vote reflects the wide global support for Palestine to establish a state and a growing divergence within the Western camp on the issue, Liu told the Global Times on Wednesday. Although not yet able to be achieved at the UN level, many are turning to recognize Palestinian statehood through bilateral means, Liu said.

Chain reactions

Chinese observers believe the decision by these three European countries will likely trigger a series of chain reactions around the globe. "Ireland, Norway, and Spain have a weighty role especially in matters concerning human rights on the global stage," Zhu noted. So not only more EU members will follow suit, countries from other regions may also join in. 

It could potentially spark a wave of recognition for the Palestinian statehood, with more countries supporting Palestine's formal membership in the UN, Zhu said. 

According to the AP, several EU countries have in the past weeks indicated that they plan to make the recognition, arguing a two-State solution is essential for lasting peace in the region. The decision could also spur further steps at the UN level, deepening Israel's isolation.

In response, Israel says it is recalling its envoys to the three countries, and called the plans "distorted," which will "fuel extremism and instability," the BBC report said.

Some 140 of 190 represented in the UN countries have already recognized a Palestinian state, according to media reports. The UK and the US are among nations that do not formally recognize a Palestinian state.

The root cause of the problem lies in the obstruction by the US, experts noted. Despite verbally claiming to support the two-State solution, the US has done nothing but consistently show bias and indulgence toward Israel, whether it is by obstructing Palestine from becoming a member state of the UN or refusing to recognize the Palestinian statehood.

"As the world's largest superpower and leader of the Western camp, the US opposition to the elevation of Palestine's status will make the others hesitate," Tian Wenlin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "However, it is evident that the gap within the West on the Middle East stance is growing, or even drifting apart."

Tian added that the decision of the three countries may have limited influence on the current situation in Gaza. "It seems that international pressure is unlikely to change Israel's unilateral actions."