A State without Legitimacy

Eight months after Israel invaded the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military has not met either of its goals of destroying Hamas militarily and rescuing all of the remaining 133 hostages Hamas is holding. Yet two-thirds of Israelis still support government’s aggressive approach in Gaza, including limiting humanitarian aid to Palestine, forcing Palestinians to starve. Despite growing isolation internationally, even at the International Criminal Court [ICC], Israel shows no sign of halting war campaign and refusing to accept Palestine as a sovereign entity.

On 20 May 2024 the ICC prosecutor Karim A A Khan submitted applications for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Hamas leaders, charging them as ‘co-perpetrators’ under Articles 25 and 28 of the Rome Statute. Mr Khan has also submitted that ‘Netanyahu and his defence minister Yoav Gallant bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity’. True, international law and the laws of armed conflict apply to all. Nothing can justify taking of hostages or targeting the civilians. But this ICC exercise has very little impact on the ground reality. Nor can it change the situation radically in favour of truce and peace. Only human rights bodies around the world take interest in ICC discourse as Israeli hawks don’t bother about what the ICC is saying-or not saying. The same is true of Hamas. One side refuses to recognise the state of Palestine while their opponent is equally adamant to deny the existence of Israel. Two parallel lines will never meet unless they agree not to disagree on some sort of accommodation and compromise.

Meanwhile, Ireland, Norway and Spain announced on May 22 that they will recognise the state of Palestine by May 28 in a largely symbolic move to give the enclave international legitimacy. People in Gaza where the Israel-Hamas war has created a dire humanitarian crisis and killed more than 35,000 Palestinians are not very enthusiastic about this western gesture. For one thing, despite tokenism both Hamas and Palestinian Authority that exercises limited self-rule over the West Bank, praised the recognition arguing that it will give Palestinians hope for peace and security.

Also, around 140 members of the United Nations already recognise the Palestine State and the last UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to grant new “rights and privileges” to Palestine, including the right to speak on all issues and participate in UN debates.

America is not against two-state solution but Washington at the same time maintains the stance that ‘a Palestinian state should be realised through direct negotiation between the parties, not through unilateral recognition’. In other words the idea of sovereign Palestine is still an idea and it is unlikely to get materialised anytime soon despite international outcry.

Only the other day Israeli Defence Minister Yaov Gallant said that they would allow Israelis to return to three West Bank settlements after being barred to do so. Israelis were evacuated from the areas in 2005 as part of a broader disengagement that also saw the withdrawal of all Israeli security forces and settlements in Gaza.

In truth Israel rejects all moves to legitimise the enclave on an international scale. Maybe after Ireland, Norway and Spain, more European states will recognise Palestine but it is not going to change the Israeli occupation and Palestine’s precarious status–A State without international legitimacy.

Each day the images emerging from Gaza remain largely the same: Israeli bombs killing civilians, Palestinians fleeing their homes and make-shift shelters and Hamas targeting Israeli forces and posting the footage online. There is hardly any doubt that Israel’s aims may be to destroy Gaza completely and displace population. And Palestinians are still searching for a state of their own in the ruins.


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Vol 56, No. 50, Jun 9 - 15, 2024