Are Western powers inching closer towards recognizing a Palestinian state?

Digital Originals

In move that many observers consider more symbolic than substantive, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, voted on Wednesday to overwhelmingly reject the “unilateral” creation of a Palestinian state.

While the international community has been calling for a two-state solution with increasing urgency, the coalition government led by Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, remains unbending in its opposition to two-state Solution. Netanyahu applauded the outcome of Wednesday’s vote, saying a Palestinian state “would not only fail to bring peace but would endanger the state of Israel.”

The Israeli declaration received the backing of 99 Israeli lawmakers in the Knesset out of 120, including the support of some members of the opposition. The rationale of the opposition centers around the belief that any permanent deal with the Palestinians needs to be reached through negotiations, not by what they called “international dictates.”

The vote drew the ire of the Palestinians. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry accused Israel of “holding the rights of Palestinians hostage with the occupation” of their land. The ministry said recognizing Palestinian statehood “does not require permission from Netanyahu.”

With more than 29,000 killed in Gaza, there have been widespread calls for a ceasefire and a Palestinian state. The U.S. along with France, the UK, and other European nations have signaled renewed commitment to a Palestinian state. “Peace in the region requires a two-state solution with Israel and a Palestinian state,” said Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer (D-NY) at the end of January. The United States, he said, must “forge a path forward for a two-state solution as we strive for stability in the Middle East.”

No substantive negotiations regarding the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have taken place since 2009. The resurrection of such recognition talks by Israel’s allies has created pressure to restart negotiations.

Although the two-state solution has long been at the core of Western policy in the Middle East, it still faces many obstacles, including the expansion of Israeli settlements on land captured by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. While many nations consider the settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories a violation of international law, the Netanyahu government supports the settlers. Last year, Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, which includes ultra-Orthodox and ultra-nationalist parties, even banned Palestinian flags from being displayed in public spaces.

Several Western nations, including France, have imposed travel bans against Israeli settlers who have physically attacked Palestinians in the West Bank. Spain wants an EU agreement to impose sanctions on violent settlers. If the EU does not reach an agreement, Spain’s Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares said Spain “will proceed individually with these sanctions.” Meanwhile, the UN says the number of settler attacks on Palestinians have more than doubled since the Hamas attack on the October 7.

The U.S., France, and the UK have announced actions against extremist settlers this month. On February 1, the White House issued an executive order, targeting Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Netanyahu denounced the order, saying he believes the majority of the settlers are “law-abiding citizens.”

Despite talks of a peace process and a potential recognition of a Palestinian state, Israeli officials continue to insist that any talks of peace must wait until after the Gaza conflict is over.

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