SYDNEY: Australia on Tuesday became the latest country to advocate formal recognition of a Palestinian state, further shattering a long-standing diplomatic taboo in the West.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that recognising a state of Palestine could restart the moribund Middle East peace process and undermine extremist forces in the Middle East.

“Recognising 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 realise their aspirations”, she told an audience in Canberra.

“It also strengthens the forces for peace, and undermines extremism. It undermines Hamas, Iran and Iran’s other destructive proxies in the region.” For decades, the formal recognition of a Palestinian state has been seen as the endgame of a peace process between Palestinians and their Israeli neighbours.

The United States, Australia and most Western European nations have said they are willing to one day recognise Palestinian statehood, but not before agreement on thorny issues like the status of Jerusalem and final borders are agreed.“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,” she added.

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

In 2014, Sweden, which has a large Palestinian community, became the first EU member in western Europe to recognise a Palestinian state.

Sanchez to lobby for Palestinian state

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will meet several of his European Union counterparts over the next week to try to garner support for the recognition of a Palestinian state, the government said on Tuesday.

Sanchez’s agenda includes meetings with the prime ministers of Norway, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia and

Belgium focusing on the EU’s position regarding the Gaza Strip, government spokesperson Pilar Alegria told reporters.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2024

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