Palestinians optimistic but wary after recognition moves

Palestinians optimistic but wary after recognition moves
Palestinians optimistic but wary after recognition moves

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank yesterday welcomed the decision by Spain, Ireland and Norway to recognise the state of Palestine, but disagreed about its significance. — Reuters pic

GAZA STRIP, May 23 — Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank yesterday welcomed the decision by Spain, Ireland and Norway to recognise the state of Palestine, but disagreed about its significance.

“This is a wonderful step by a global conscience that had been in deep sleep about a cause that’s more than 77 years old,” Ismail Hassouna, a 46-year-old Palestinian, told AFP in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Spain, Ireland and Norway said Wednesday they will recognise a Palestinian state from May 28, amid hopes that other European countries will follow suit.

Communications engineer Rami al-Rifi, 27, from Gaza City, shared his “feeling of joy”, and said he thought the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza had focused world attention on the Palestinian cause, leading to the move.

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Awni Khattab, a displaced Gazan, said he hoped the recognition would lead to territorial sovereignty for Palestinians.

“We hope this decision will be implemented and that a Palestinian state will be established along the (June) 1967 borders,” he told AFP.

But Ahmad Ziad, 37, interviewed in Rafah, was unconvinced.

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“We need to see such talk being put into practice on the ground, otherwise it is useless,” he said.

Hussein al-Sheikh, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation executive committee, called the recognition moves “historical moments in which the free world triumphs for truth and justice”, in a statement on X.

War as a catalyst

Nour Odeh, a Ramallah-based political analyst, was also enthusiastic, praising what she called “an emotional day”.

She told AFP “the war pushed these countries to act”, but also noted that “the majority of the world recognises Palestine”.

The Palestinian Authority says that 142 of the 193 UN member countries already recognise a Palestinian state.

Writer and political analyst Sari Orabi also pointed to the conflict in Gaza.

“It is clear that this recognition is related to the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip and the exposure of Israeli propaganda and the image of the Israeli occupation,” he told AFP.

Odeh sees the move as a tangible path to a country for Palestinians.

“This is not a symbolic act. This is a legal commitment that countries are making,” she said.

She added that she was hopeful the collective nature of the endeavour “will push others now in Europe to take similar steps”.

Ines Abdul Razek, a Palestinian political analyst, did not share Odeh’s enthusiasm, however.

“It is definitely not the great victory move it claims to be,” she told AFP.

“The decision will trigger a diplomatic ballet of preformative frictions while not changing anything about our very concrete and accelerated erasure as a people.”

Abdul Razek, director of advocacy organisation the Palestine Institute for Public Democracy, instead called for the advancement of Palestinian rights and “actual measures including sanctions and arms embargo” on Israel.

In the West Bank and Jerusalem, people AFP spoke to were optimistic but wanted more tangible acts towards Palestinian sovereignty.

Ayed Bornat, a resident of Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital, said he welcomes the recognition, and urged other nations to follow suit “so we can be the Palestinian state with holy Jerusalem as its capital”.

‘Weak’ diplomacy

The Palestinian foreign ministry welcomed the decision.

“With this significant step, Spain, Norway and Ireland have once again demonstrated their unwavering commitment to the two-state solution and to delivering the long overdue justice to the Palestinian people,” a statement read.

It urged all countries that have not yet recognised the state of Palestine “to take this principled decision as soon as possible”.

But some lamented Palestinian diplomacy’s conspicuous absence from the process.

“Palestinian diplomacy is weak,” Jerusalem resident Yassin Abu Khudair told AFP.

“From the minister of foreign affairs to the youngest diplomatic employee, they did nothing.”

Manuel Abdel-Aal from Ramallah echoed this.

“I see Palestinian diplomacy is absent and playing no role” in the recognition decision, he said, adding that current circumstances alone led to the decision.

“What the Palestinians are going through these days, whether in Gaza or in the West Bank, is what spurred these European countries to take a stand,” he added. — AFP

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