US Considering Recognizing Palestine
But probably won't.
Axios (“Scoop: State Department reviewing options for possible recognition of Palestinian state“):
Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked the State Department to conduct a review and present policy options on possible U.S. and international recognition of a Palestinian state after the war in Gaza, two U.S. officials briefed on the issue told Axios.
Why it matters: While U.S. officials say there has been no policy change, the fact the State Department is even considering such options signals a shift in thinking within the Biden administration on possible Palestinian statehood recognition, which is highly sensitive both internationally and domestically.
- For decades, U.S. policy has been to oppose the recognition of Palestine as a state both bilaterally and in UN institutions and to stress Palestinian statehood should only be achieved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Yes but: Efforts to find a diplomatic way out of the war in Gaza has opened the door for rethinking a lot of old U.S. paradigms and policies, a senior U.S. official said.
- The Biden administration is linking possible normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia to the creation of a pathway for the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of its post-war strategy. This initiative is based on the administration’s efforts prior to Oct. 7 to negotiate a mega-deal with Saudi Arabia that included a peace agreement between the kingdom and Israel.
- Saudi officials have publicly and privately made clear since Oct. 7 that any potential normalization agreement with Israel would be conditioned on the creation of an “irrevocable” pathway toward a Palestinian state.
- Some inside the Biden administration are now thinking recognition of a Palestinian state should possibly be the first step in negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of the last, the senior U.S. official said.
There are several options for U.S. action on this issue, including:
- Bilaterally recognizing the state of Palestine.
- Not using its veto to block the UN Security Council from admitting Palestine as a full UN member state.
- Encouraging other countries to recognize Palestine.
State of play: U.S. officials said the review of options regarding the recognition of a Palestinian state is one of several issues Blinken asked the State Department to look at.
- Blinken also asked for a review of what a demilitarized Palestinian state would look like based on other models from around the world, the two U.S. officials said.
- The idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state is something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed several times between 2009 and 2015, but hasn’t referred to it in recent years.
- The purpose of such a review is to look at options for how a two-state solution can be implemented in a way that assures security for Israel, a U.S. official said.
Despite the breathlessness of the “scoop,” this appears for all the world like simple staff work.
The Secretary of State is dealing with a generations-old, intractable problem and is having his team explore the feasibility of all manner of options. While it’s possible that he’ll choose this option to recommend to the President—who may well reject it even then—it’s much more likely that he’ll discover that there’s a good reason why none of his predecessors preemptively recognized an entity that has no capacity to build, much less govern, a state under current circumstances.
Regardless, exploring options and examining their costs, benefits, and consequences is the job of senior leaders. It’s weird to treat it as some radical departure.
UPDATE: The first comment, from @Marked Man, reminds me that I forgot to mention a salient point that had occurred to me as well: Who leaked this to Axios and why? We’ve seen a considerable number of press reports than Biden staffers are not at all happy with the President’s pro-Israel stance in the Gaza war, so that’s the most obvious motivation. But it’s also possible that the leaker favors the President’s policy and is trying to nip any recognition of Palestine in the bud.