Foreign Policy Diary ‘State of Palestine’

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On May 13, the Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine. Indeed, the Vatican had already welcomed the United Nations General Assembly vote in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state. It has treated Palestine as a state since then despite the conflict over this issue. Meanwhile, Venezuela is strengthening diplomatic ties with Palestine. Particularly, it means that Venezuela’s diplomatic representation in Palestine will be elevated to full embassy status. The news was revealed in the wake of a visit to Venezuela by PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, which resulted in the signing of 18 cooperation agreements related to trade, energy, agriculture, health, education, defence and security. Although, these facts don’t resolve system problem in the region.

The State of Palestine is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East. Its independence was declared on 15 November 1988 by the Palestine Liberation Organization in Algiers as a government-in-exile. The State of Palestine claims the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and has designated Jerusalem as its capital, with partial control of those areas assumed in 1994 as the Palestinian Authority. Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. In 2007, the Hamas takeover of Gaza Strip politically and territorially divided the Palestinians, with Abbas’s Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognized internationally as the official Palestinian Authority, while Hamas has secured its control over the Gaza Strip. In April 2011, the Palestinian parties signed an agreement of reconciliation, but its implementation had stalled until a unity government was formed on 2 June 2014.

Than on Wednesday Israeli aircraft struck a number of sites in the Gaza Strip from the air early. Gaza residents said missiles struck several locations throughout the Gaza Strip, including places used as training camps by Islamic Jihad militants on sites that had been Israeli colonies before Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Earlier, unknown Palestinian militants fired a rocket late Tuesday from the enclave which landed near the Israeli port city of Ashdod. It was the longest-range militant rocket strike since a ceasefire which ended last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza. There was no immediate claim of responsibility in Gaza for the rocket launching. However, Israeli media speculated that infighting among Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza Strip may have precipitated the rocket firing without the permission of Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers.

Rival factions in Gaza are angry that months after the end of the war, no progress has been made to improve the isolated enclave’s plight and pledges for funding to reconstruct buildings devastated during the war have not been honoured. Reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas have faltered, adding to hardships and hampering foreign aid donations and the import of building materials. Israel maintains a partial blockade on the territory and Egypt largely keeps the Rafah border crossing closed. In turn, Hamas has imposed a “solidarity tax” and salaries for workers not aligned with the Palestinian Authority are not being paid in full.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that US attempts to forge an agreement on a framework for peace talks with Israel had so far failed but that the efforts were “extremely serious”. On the one hand, a Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that ideas proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris could not be accepted “as the basis for a framework accord… as they do not take into account the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people”. The one of the main problems is Jerusalem’s status. Israel recaptured East Jerusalem from the neighboring Arab nation of Jordan 48 years ago, declaring it Israel’s united and undivided capital. A number of nations do not recognize the city’s annexation and insist its status must be determined in the course of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. In turn, Palestine seeks to establish East Jerusalem as its own independent state’s capital as more members of the international community begin to recognize the Palestinian state. Thus, the sense of peace-talk failures is unwillingness of Israel and number of Western states to recognize the interests of Palestine.

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