Palestine: a State without full international recognition or absolute control of the territory | International

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The Palestinian desire to establish a state of its own has failed for the last seven decades. Israel's occupation and the absence of a stable government throughout the enclave, capable of exercising its administration autonomously in the West Bank and Gaza, prevent the territories that make up Palestine from exercising their sovereignty or developing public policies for the 5.5 million people who approximately live in them. Despite everything, a total of 139 States of the 193 members of the United Nations have recognized Palestine as a full-fledged sovereign State (the United States and the main European countries are not included among them). What, then, is its legal status and that of its citizens?

The Montevideo Convention of 1933 establishes the classic attributes that a State must meet to be considered as such: that it has effective sovereignty over a defined territory, a stable population, a series of institutions capable of responding to the needs of citizens and that is recognized as an equal by other States. "In the case of Palestine it could be included in the series of so-called 'quasi-States' or States with limited sovereignty," explains Isaías Barreñada, doctor in Political Science and co-author of Palestine: from the Oslo agreements to apartheid (Cataract, 2023).

“It does not have effective sovereignty over its territory, but rather over a kind of archipelago of small portions of its territory,” says Barreñada, also a professor of International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid. The reason is that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority rule in a West Bank increasingly inundated with Israeli settler settlements, while Hamas does so. in fact in Gaza. Nor does it have jurisdiction over the entire Palestinian population, to the extent that some areas, called B and C according to the 1993 Oslo Accords, are under Israeli control — the former only under military control and the latter, military and civilian. —.

Palestine does possess, as Barreñada contemplates, “the attribute of having created institutions typical of a State, such as government or legislative institutions.” Proof of this is that "he has called elections and has prepared constitutional texts." And from the point of view of recognition, “it is quite extensive.” “But it is not the whole,” she clarifies. Specifically, 54 member countries of the UN have not recognized it, among them, “Western powers such as the United States, Canada and a series of European countries,” such as Spain.

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"In Spain the situation is very unusual because it has not recognized Palestine as a State, but there is a diplomatic mission of Palestine in Spain, headed by a Palestinian diplomat. [Husni Abdel Wahed]whom Spain recognizes as ambassador and who has presented his credentials to the King,” explains the expert. Last week, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, urged the recognition of Palestine as a State.

Palestine is, for its part, a member of international organizations such as the Arab League or UNESCO, and since November 29, 2012, it has been a non-member observer state of the UN. The resolution approved that day by 138 countries recognized “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence in their State of Palestine” over the territory occupied by Israel since 1967. However, belonging to international organizations is not a sufficient condition for Palestine to be recognized as a State. “The recognition of a State is not given by an international organization such as the European Union, which has no powers to do so, or the United Nations,” clarifies Barreñada.

However, becoming a full member of the UN is an important step, although the process is more complex. “The State will have to present a request to the Secretary General”, claiming that it meets all the requirements, describe Lisbeth Katherine Duarte Herrera and Jorge Daniel Miramontes Romero in the article International Recognition of Palestine. This request must receive the approval of an admissions committee linked to the United Nations Security Council, in which any of the five permanent members (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom or France) have the right to veto. Once this filter has been passed, the UN General Assembly would decide by majority whether or not the country is admitted as a Member State.

“In 2011, Palestine submitted its application, but the secretary general [entonces Ban Ki-moon] “He knew that the United States would block it, so he froze the Palestinian petition, which is still in a drawer, until there were conditions to avoid American rejection,” explains the doctor in Political Science. Because, as he adds, if he passes that filter "we all know that, in the General Assembly, Palestine would have a majority."

An “anomalous” resolution

To find an answer to the current Palestinian situation it is necessary to delve into the origins of the conflict. “The uniqueness of the Palestinian case lay in the fact that its project was interfered with by the Zionist colonial project and that the United Nations ended up settling a partition, in 1947, that contravened the right of self-determination of the colonized peoples,” write José Abu-Tarbush and Barreñada in his recent book on Palestine. As they conclude, the UN resolved a conflict generated by colonialism [Palestina fue colonia británica] in a totally “anomalous” way, which consists of dividing the territory in two so that one part is given to the settlers and another to the native population. It is the so-called “two-state” solution, one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians.

An Israeli soldier raises a national flag for the first time since the proclamation of the State of Israel, on May 14, 1948, in a photograph published on June 8 of that year.INTERCONTINENTALE (AFP/Getty Images)

“The Zionists of that time [el Estado de Israel no nace hasta 1948] They accept the UN proposal, but Palestine and the Arab countries rejected it, considering it a Solomonic solution,” Barreñada emphasizes. “Imagine that this had happened with Algeria and that half of Algeria had been for the French settlers and the other half for the native Maghrebi population,” she details to highlight the “anomaly” of this decision. “At the beginning of the seventies, the Palestinians realized that the State of Israel was an irreversible reality, and at that moment it was when they admitted to recovering the territory that was left to them, 22% of what it was originally” historical Palestine, he continues. . But Israel “will not allow it.”

Palestinian nationality

But what nationality do the citizens of a quasi-state have? The Palestinians who remained in Israeli territory after the proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948 adopted the nationality of this country. However, the legal status of the rest is very diverse. “Those who were born, for example, before 1967 in the territories administered by Jordan [en Cisjordania] “They have Jordanian residence documents,” says Barreñada, while those who were born later have identity documents provided by the United Nations and, the youngest, by the Palestinian Authority.

However, the situation of diaspora Palestinians, those forced to live outside historic Palestine after the Nakba (disaster) of 1948, varies greatly from one country to another, some seven million, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. “In some places they appear as immigrants, in others as refugees and others acquired the citizenship of the host places,” explains Barreñada.

In countries like Jordan or Syria "they have many facilities, but in others like Lebanon they only have United Nations documentation, if they leave they will never be able to return and they have problems accessing the labor market because there are jobs that are prohibited for them," says the expert. . This variety of legal regimes, which can affect members of the same family—“grandparents with Jordanian documents and grandchildren with those of the Palestinian Authority”—sometimes prevents them from being able to reunite or leave the territory in which they are located.

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