Australian FM says Canberra to consider recognizing Palestinian state

Australia joins several nations now mulling step that Israel vehemently opposes, saying it is a key way forward to ending the conflict

File - Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (R) receives Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong (L), in Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah, in the West Bank, January 17, 2024. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
File - Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (R) receives Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong (L), in Palestinian Authority-controlled Ramallah, in the West Bank, January 17, 2024. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

SYDNEY — Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong said Tuesday that Canberra would consider recognition of a Palestinian state, a shift in policy as the international community looks for a two-state solution to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In a speech on Tuesday, Wong backed comments by Britain’s foreign minister David Cameron who has said that recognizing a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations, would make a two-state solution irreversible

Wong also said that recognizing a state of Palestine could restart the moribund Middle East peace process and undermine extremist forces in the region.

“Recognizing a Palestinian state — one that can only exist side by side with a secure Israel — doesn’t just offer the Palestinian people an opportunity to realize their aspirations,” she said. “It also strengthens the forces for peace and undermines extremism. It undermines Hamas, Iran and Iran’s other destructive proxies in the region.”

The foreign minister also said that “there is no role for Hamas in a future Palestinian state.”

For decades, the formal recognition of a Palestinian state has been seen as the endgame of a peace process between Palestinians and their Israeli neighbors.

The United States, Australia, and most Western European nations have said they are willing to one day recognize Palestinian statehood, but not before thorny issues like the status of Jerusalem and final borders are agreed upon.

Palestinians walk through the destruction in Khan Younis in the aftermath of fierce battles between Israel and Hamas and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Gaza Strip, Monday, April 8, 2024 (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

But after Hamas’s devastating October 7 attack, in which nearly 1,200 people were killed and 253 abducted — with about half still held hostage in Gaza — and the ensuing six months of war, diplomats are reconsidering once-contentious ideas.

“The failures of this approach by all parties over decades — as well as the Netanyahu government’s refusal to even engage on the question of a Palestinian state — have caused widespread frustration,” Wong said, “so the international community is now considering the question of Palestinian statehood as a way of building momentum towards a two-state solution.”

“Those who claim recognition is rewarding an enemy” are wrong, Wong added,  because “there is no long-term security for Israel unless it is recognized by the countries of its region.”

Her comments come after the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Slovenia and Spain have floated the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state.

In 2014, Sweden, which has a large Palestinian community, became the first European Union member in Western Europe to recognize a Palestinian state.

Palestinian statehood had earlier been recognized by six other European countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

The Knesset in February voted resoundingly against what it called the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood, and said any such agreement must be reached through direct negotiations.

File – Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour speaks during a session of the United Nations Security Council, at the UN headquarters in New York, March 25, 2024.(Angela Weiss/AFP)

Spain, among other Western countries, is pushing for such recognition, and is a main proponent for an analogous move within the European Union.

The Palestinian Authority on April 2 formally asked for renewed consideration by the United Nations Security Council of its 2011 application to become a full member of the world body. The Palestinians share with the Holy See the status of non-member observer state at the UN.

The UN Security Council president on Monday referred the Palestinian Authority’s application to become a full UN member to the admission committee.

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