Wednesday

22nd Sep 2021

Opinion

EU states should follow Sweden on Palestine

  • The answer has lay before us for many years: two states – Israel and Palestine – as defined by the 1967 borders. (Photo: Rosie Gabrielle)

There are moments in the life of a diplomat in which one is obliged to abandon diplomatic conduct and to say what’s on one’s mind loud and clear.

This period defines such a moment.

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After years of diplomatic service on behalf of the state of Israel in addition to years of struggle in defence of Israel’s reputation, there is no doubt in my mind that the 47-year long occupation of Palestine poses the gravest threat to the state of Israel today.

I also have no doubt that the answer to this threat has laid before us for many years: two states – Israel and Palestine – as defined by the 1967 borders.

In this light, as an Israeli citizen who loves and believes in his country, I extend my most sincere gratitude to the Swedish prime minister and members of the new Swedish government on their decision to recognise the state of Palestine.

Some people prefer to defer recognition, in the belief that recognition of a Palestinian state needs to come as a result of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and not serve as a starting point for them.

I believe that they are wrong.

The Israeli government has adopted a policy that places substantial barriers in the way of any potential means of ending the conflict.

Such policies are made manifest in the ongoing expansion of civilian settlement and illegal outpost construction, and in the refusal to earnestly sit at the negotiating table having accepted legitimate Palestinian demands.

In such a situation, conditioning a sovereign Palestinian state on the successful completion of negotiations, in effect indirectly perpetuates the continuation of the occupation, indefinitely.

The loud and clear voice of Sweden

The voice of Sweden, upon making its decision in support of just, peaceful lives for both nations in the region, is absolutely critical.

To my Israeli friends who will read this today, I assure you, there is nothing to fear in regard to recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. On the contrary!

Only the establishment of such a state can ensure the continued existence of a sovereign state of Israel along the Green Line.

Only such recognition will save us from our continued deterioration down the slippery slope of apartheid that threatens to strangle the West Bank with each new settlement and separate road for Israelis and Palestinians.

International recognition of a Palestinian state does not mark an end to negotiations, but rather their beginning.

Negotiations under such circumstances would take place between two sovereign recognised entities, rather than between an occupying country and the population under its control.

I beseech our friends in the international community to join the Swedish government in taking this brave stride.

Israelis and Palestinians alike have no more time to waste before further lives are lost or severely compromised.

Occupation

The characteristics of the ongoing occupation include settlement expansion; limited water resources and access to Palestinians; restricted freedom of movement in the West Bank, and between Gaza and the West Bank; and the all-encompassing military occupation.

These elements paint the reality in the region today, and will continue to do so if nothing changes.

But we cannot change this reality on our own. We require the help of our true friends in the international community who are ready to recognise the legitimate rights of Palestinians as being equally important as those of Israelis.

Only when our friends take this firm stance will there be a possibility to affect change within the Israeli position and to bring us all closer to an end to the occupation and the conflict at large.

Upon the start of the Jewish New Year, I again extend my most deep gratitude to the Swedish PM for his role as a true friend of Israel.

I hope that throughout this year many other members of the international community will join Sweden in recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside a sovereign Israeli state, and in support of a just, fair agreement for both nations.

The writer served as the director general of Israel's ministry of foreign affairs and as the Israeli ambassador to South Africa

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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