Spain, Ireland lead the world in rush to recognise Palestine State

SPANISH Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reiterated his criticism of Israel’s “absolutely disproportionate response” with its war on Gaza, describing it as a threat to world peace. Picture: Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters

SPANISH Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reiterated his criticism of Israel’s “absolutely disproportionate response” with its war on Gaza, describing it as a threat to world peace. Picture: Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters

Published Apr 14, 2024


WHEN the new history of a modern global society is written, it will be based on new ethos that shuns the unipolar dominance of geopolitics by the powerful few at the expense of the majority world.

Two Western nations will feature prominently in the remaking of the global order for their sterling role in the reconfiguration of the international world order.

They are Spain and Ireland. Together with others such as Norway, Spain and Ireland have consistently exhibited a relentless pursuit of justice for the beleaguered people of Palestine.

This week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reiterated his criticism of Israel’s “absolutely disproportionate response” to its war on Gaza, describing it as a threat to world peace.

Sanchez said Israel’s indiscriminate punishment of the entire 2.4 million population of Gaza had “overturned decades of humanitarian law and threatened to destabilise (not) only the Middle East, but the whole world”.

The Spanish leader’s public posture and pronouncements on modern history’s worst systematic destruction of a society ‒ their possessions from their homes, hospitals, refugee camps, media, animals, cemeteries to just about anything that moves on their land – are encouraging signs that our world is undergoing a change of great significance.

Last week, the Palestinian Authority (PA) returned to the UN Security Council (UNSC) to ask the body to reconsider its 2011 application for full membership to the world organisation.

Currently Palestine, like the Vatican, is a non-member “observer state” at the UN. Things are looking a lot more promising for the application to succeed this time around.

The application has successfully gone through the biggest primary hurdle, the UNSC, where the US could have easily raised its hand to veto the application.

Now, the application has proceeded to the next level that is probably less arduous – the UN General Assembly, where a two-third majority of nations will almost certainly vote for the establishment of the State of Palestine.

Countries such as Spain and Ireland truly give hope that not all nations of the global north are still imperial in ideology. During his visit to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar last week, PM Sanchez boldly declared that Madrid could on its own officially recognise the state of Palestine by the end of June this year.

Speaking to Al Jazeera TV, he said: “The international community, as a whole, we must recognise the full membership of Palestine in the UN system.” Sanchez added: “And, of course, bilaterally in the case Spain, we are ready to support and recognise the State of Palestine because this momentum has to be different to the others that we witnessed over the past seven decades.”

During an address to his parliament, the Spanish leader described the recognition of a Palestinian State as “just”, and called on the EU to follow suit as it was in Europe’s “geopolitical interests” to do so, he said, before adding: “The international community cannot help the Palestinian State if it does recognise its existence.”

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin echoed similar sentiments elsewhere. Ireland “will move to recognise a Palestinian State in the coming weeks”, Martin said. Ireland has been one of the most audible voices of dissent in Brussels, calling for a more humane approach to the slaughter of the Palestinians in Gaza.

In the light of all these developments, methinks it would have been too discomforting for the US to attempt to annul the Palestinian application for full UN membership.

An act of sheer folly, it would have been. The US is scheduled to hold elections on November 5, with President Joe Biden desperately seeking re-election against a real threat in former President Donald Trump.

Israel will certainly be one of the election issues, particularly among the Muslim voters, as well as the Palestinian-Americans.

Another discomforting reality for Washington is that the majority of the international community has been appalled by the US-backed Israel’s ongoing “genocide” in Gaza, as South Africa alleged in its case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The US could not muster its previous courage of 2011 when it caused the application to collapse before it could even be placed on the UNSC agenda.

At the time, Washington had argued that the establishment of the Palestinian State should only happen through direct negotiations between the parties, and not the UN. This logic, (or illogic), would have been too embarrassing a proposition to advance.

The ”two parties” in question have become sworn enemies. They are unequal in every respect ‒ with one the colonial master and the other the colonised. The expressed desire of the Jewish state is to eject the entire Palestinian population from their land and scatter into exile, that is, if they are fortunate to survive state-sanctioned arbitrary executions.

To expect the establishment of a Palestinian State to be dependent upon the whims of apartheid, Israel is simply to sign off on a permanent death of the very idea of Palestinian statehood.

Another conundrum for the Biden administration has been the downright rejection by Israel and the US of repeated calls by the majority of the UN member states for an “immediate ceasefire”. Such obstinacy has isolated Israel internationally, accentuating its growing reputation as a “pariah state”.

By extension, the isolation of the Jewish state has adversely affected the international influence of its greatest backers – the US, UK, Germany – and divided the EU down the middle”.

Thus far, Israel has killed more than 33 000 Palestinians, almost half the victims being children, plus hordes of women and innocent men who have nothing to do with Hamas.

Additionally, thousands remain trapped under heaps of monumental rubble, their lifeless bodies rotting away helplessly. Nearly 80 000 have been wounded, many their lives ebbing away amid Israel’s daily shelling and bombardment of anything that moves across the entire Gaza Strip, a territory under the democratic governance of resistance movement Hamas.

Up to October 7, Hamas – established towards the end of the 1970s in response to the worsening Israeli apartheid and the growing desire among a new generation of Palestinians to fight fire with fire – grew meteorically in stature and influence, occasionally firing rockets into Israel.

The grip of the Jewish state on the entire lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian people had become worse by the day, conditions that played midwife to the Hamas movement.

Illegal Jewish settlers, buoyed and protected by the Israeli Knesset, had occupied large swathes of land that is not theirs, uprooting the indigenous Palestinians. The UN had declared in dozens of resolutions that Israeli settlements are illegal, as well as its occupation of Palestinian land.

However, the UN resolutions against Israel have come to naught, thwarted ostensibly by the US veto power at the UN Security Council. In addition, the US has made Israel a permanent item on the national budget allocation, setting aside astronomical sums of dollars in annual military plans exclusively for Tel Aviv.

With the EU’s foreign policy largely premised on the notion of “monkey see, monkey do”, support for Israel – characterised by the US-led blind loyalty – had become a non-negotiable throughout any party’s tenure in the White House.

But countries such as Spain and Ireland have truly been among the loudest in calls for justice for Palestine. I may not leave my beloved South Africa out, having been the first to haul the Jewish State before the highest court in the world to answer to charges of genocide, and lately deliberately manufactured famine.

Nicaragua, too, deserves a mention, having taken Germany to the ICJ on charges of aiding and abetting genocide as the world’s second biggest supplier of weapons to Israel for use in the country’s genocide.

It is people such as Prime Minister Sanchez who inspire others to stop their silence, and inaction. Steady and surely, the global governance system is changing for the better.

Like South Africa, the entire global south has argued that the UN system reflecting the 1940s is archaic. All former colonies have become independent states. Palestine is about to become the latest.

* Abbey Makoe is Publisher & Editor-in-Chief: Global South Media Network