Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Swedish posturing on Arab delusions


IN breaking ranks with its EU partners to become the first European nation since Soviet times to announce recognition of Palestine as a state, Sweden’s new centre-left government has done nothing for the cause of peace in the Middle East or the two-state solution it claims to support.

The move, disclosed by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who is in coalition with the Greens, defies logic. It has the same dizzy irrationality that was evident at the recent NSW ALP conference. Delegates backed Labor recognition of a Palestinian state even though no such state, with the essential prerequisite of defined and agreed borders, exists. It cannot do so unless negotiations are successfully concluded with Israel. While Gaza’s boundaries are demarcated, just what would constitute Palestine in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is uncertain and can be defined only on the basis of negotiations with Israel.

Mr Lofven provided no insight into what his government has actually recognised — the Fatah administration in the West Bank or the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza. Hamas is pledged to Israel’s destruction and steadfastly pursues article 13 of its charter: “There is no solution to the Palestinian question except through jihad.”

It would be easy to dismiss the Swedish move as grandstanding by an L-plated government eager to differentiate itself from its centre-right predecessor. Sweden, however, is an influential EU member and its action is finding an echo in a debate due to be held in the British parliament next week.

It also plays into the delusional notion being peddled by Palestinian leaders that the goal of statehood can somehow be achieved unilaterally through the back door, with the help of compliant nations, rather than through bilateral negotiations with Israel. Such an unrealistic mindset is damaging. 

It undermines prospects for the resumption of genuine bilateral negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. This is the only basis on which peace can be achieved and humanitarian disasters such as the recent Gaza conflict avoided. Naive posturing does nothing to bring the two sides together at the negotiating table.

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