France Should Recognize Palestine Now Instead of Wasting Time With the UN

Draft of UN Security Council resolution for ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict gives both parties 18 months before France will recognize Palestinian state. But what’s the point of waiting?


This summer, France intends to propose a UN Security Council resolution for ending the Israel-Palestine conflict.

As far as I can tell, the draft of the resolution recently published by French newspaper Le Figaro doesn't actually say fish will fly or aging will be reversed in the utopian future envisaged by France, but that seems to be the general thrust. As fiction based on an imaginary world-to-be, the French resolution might have some redeeming features. As a blueprint for a real-life resolution of the conflict, it has none.

According to the draft, Israel and the Palestinians will return to peace negotiations immediately and conclude them with a permanent agreement within 18 months. Jerusalem will be the capital of both states and Palestinian refugees will be compensated.

Both states will be fully sovereign and Israel will entirely withdraw its army from the Palestinian territory after a transitional period. The security of both states will be guaranteed and the agreement will provide for effective oversight to prevent the resurgence of terrorism.

The sting in the tail is that, in the event of the sides failing to reach a permanent agreement after 18 months, France will recognize the Palestinian state.

It will save everyone a lot of time, emotional turmoil and money (think how much money went toward John Kerry's air travel during the abortive 2014 talks) if France were to just recognize Palestine now and be done with it.  What’s the point in going through a year and a half of posturing, lies, Netanyahu babble and mutual recriminations when the end is already foretold?

The fact that France's Laurent Fabius and friends actually seem to believe that pretty words on a piece of paper will resolve decades of colonial occupation, entrenched settlement, mutual hatred and institutionalized violence – even if those pretty words are approved by the Security Council – is mind-boggling. Given that France is hoping for the support of the United States and Europe in getting its resolution passed, one has to fear for the future of Western leadership in this nasty little world of ours.

What France appears to have forgotten in its visionary zeal is that both the Israelis and the Palestinians are deeply split over the future of the Palestinian territories and that neither is in a position to actually decide on anything.

In other words, even if Israeli and Palestinian delegations were to agree to a settlement along the lines envisaged by France – which won’t happen under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any other conceivable Israeli leader – large and powerful segments of their populations will stymie any deal.

On the Palestinian side, the abyss between Fatah and Hamas has been fathomless ever since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, despite numerous efforts to bridge it. They can’t even get it together to provide housing for the thousands of Palestinians bombed out of their homes by Israel last summer. What reason is there to believe they’ll be able to jointly recognize Israel and stick to the terms of an agreement?

The fracture in Israel is less palpable on a day-to-day basis but potentially even deeper. What we saw in 2005, when Ariel Sharon pulled the Israeli settlers out of Gaza and part of the northern West Bank, was only a teaser for what will happen if an Israeli government – any Israeli government – were to attempt to dismantle more West Bank settlements, or even transfer territory that includes settlements to Palestinian sovereignty. And without such territory, there is no viable Palestinian state.

The reality on the ground – the deep-rooted nature of the occupation and the profound divisions on both sides – makes nonsense of the French proposal. In the current environment, there is no hope in hell for a negotiated agreement. The sooner the French and others understand that, the sooner the international community will be able to begin devising strategies that might actually work.

Platitudes and wishful thinking will not put an end the occupation. All they will do is give the Israeli settlement mob more time, and for them time is oxygen – more settlement, more military domination and more Israeli roots planted into Palestinian soil.

If the French want to participate in a real solution to the conflict, they will publicly identify the Israeli occupation as the fundamental problem and implement measures (think harsh sanctions) to persuade Israel of where its true interests lie. Then they will have to find ways of stitching together the two societies that have been ripped apart by the conflict.

Roy Isacowitz is a journalist and writer living in Tel Aviv and an editor at the English edition of Haaretz.