Western governments are scurrying to find ways to distance themselves from Israel’s slaughterhouse military tactics enacted in Gaza this summer. Assumably, this has nothing (or at least very little) to do with any sort of realization on the part of Europe or North America that the occupation is, has been, and will continue to be brutal and inhumane if left intact; rather, it simply isn’t palatable for the leaders of such civilized, developed, refined nations to be so openly aligned with a nation and an army that could allow and create such gruesome scenes as were seen in the most recent assault on the Strip. If there’s one thing you can count on from the leaders of the “developed” world, it’s that they’re down to save face anytime they can.
Of course, saving face can’t come at the cost of upsetting the current global landscape or taking too drastic a turn as far as foreign policy is concerned. That’s why the past few weeks have seen an uptick in Palestinian recognition movements by European governments.
Sweden very boldly declared that they would be recognizing Palestinian statehood, which then prompted the UK to have a vote considering the same. The vote came out in favor of recognition by a count of 274 to 12. Many MP’s did not vote, but some, including conservative MP Richard Ottoway, still voiced opposition to recent Israeli governmental actions.
“I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people,” said Ottoway, as reported by Haaretz.
In the wake of this, Spain is set to vote on recognition.
So, what does all of this mean for Palestine?
The answer? Not much. Practically, it means nothing. Britain still will not officially recognize Palestinian statehood until after an agreement is met between Israelis and Palestinians, and that doesn’t seem to be likely in the near future, even with the PA takeover of Gazan operations.
Furthermore, symbolically recognizing Palestinian statehood pushes the agenda for a two-state solution, which would put Palestine in a state hardly more beneficial than the one in which it now finds itself. The continued insistence on the propagation of the two-state solution ignores the fact that the creation of the Palestinian state would not end the occupation, it would only rename it—Israeli operations would go from being called “occupation” to “intervention,” and Palestine would remain fettered by a history of persecution and politico-economic dispositions against the occupants of the West Bank and Gaza, not to mention the history of Orientalism that paints Palestinians as mere obstructions to the peace and prosperity of the Nation of Israel.
The reality, however, is that for all Europe’s good intentions, the two-state solution is no solution at all. But then, it’s possible that Europe isn’t seeking a solution. Maybe they just don’t want to be associated with the problem, and now they’re washing their hands of Palestinian blood.
The only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict” is that of one state in which Palestinians and Israelis alike are offered the same social, political, and economic rights; where both are free to travel, free to trade, free to receive the benefits of statehood without those benefits being predicated on the expulsion of an “Other.”
It stands, however, that the recent votes in Europe may reflect a global trend that is coming to terms with the inhumane nature of the world’s last occupatory state. It took long enough; the remnants of settler-colonialism are criticized the world over, but not in Israel. Perhaps we are entering in an age where that begins to change. It’s going to take a lot more from the international community than a few more “yeas” than “nays” to find a working solution, but it’s possible that this is a step in the right direction.
*Let the record show that I am probably wrong about Palestine being the “world’s last occupatory state,” as brought to my attention by Sumaia Masoom. There’s also Kashmir. And Tibet. And Catalonia. And Kosovo, if you ask the Albanians. And Kurdistan. They’re all more or less occupied, depending on who you ask. I understand that these are individually nuanced and that they each have their own specific historical context and situation, but it’s still worth noting.