International recognition of Palestine is symbolic but critical
The recognition of the Australian Labor Palestine (ALP) of Palestine as a state on March 30 was a welcome move, though it comes with many warnings. Pro-Palestinian activists are justified in questioning the sincerity of the parties’ stance and whether it is really prepared to adopt this position if it were to be in power after the 2022 elections.
The language of change regarding the recognition of Palestine is quite indecisive. While committing the ALP to recognizing Palestine as a state, he also expects this issue to be an important priority for the next Labor government. This is not the same as confirming that recognition of Palestine will be resolved if Labor takes office.
Moreover, the issue has been an important priority for the ALP for years. In fact, similar language was adopted at the closing session of the 2018 Labor Conference, which supported the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognized borders, while adding this important clause: ALP calls on the Labor Government to recognize Palestine as a state. Unfortunately for Labor, she lost the May 2019 election, with the Liberal-National Coalition retaining its majority and again forming a government under Scott Morrison.
Morrison was prime minister when the ALP approved its policy change in Palestine in 2018. In fact, it was his regressive stance on Israel that ostensibly forced Labor to develop a seemingly progressive stance. Nine days after then-US President Donald Trump in 2017 challenged international law by formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and then moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Morrison also flirted with the idea, hoping to seek pro-Israel support. lobbies before elections.
However, Morrison did not go as far as Trump, as he was restrained by the move of his countries’ embassy to the occupied city. Instead, he developed an insecure, albeit still illegal, position in which he recognized West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and promised to relocate his countries’ embassy to West Jerusalem when it was practical, in support of and after the determination of final status. Canberra still took practical steps, including setting up a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and starting the search for a place for its future embassy.
Morrisons’s self-service strategy remains a political embarrassment for Australia, as it brought the country closer to Trumps’ illegal anti-Palestinian stance. While the vast majority of UN member states hold a unified stance on the illegality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, arguing that the status of Jerusalem can only be determined on the basis of a negotiated agreement, the Australian government thought otherwise.
As Palestinians, Arabs and other nations mobilized against the new Australian position, the ALP came under pressure to balance the government agenda, which was seen as a blind supporter of military occupation and apartheid. Since the ALP lost the 2019 elections, however, its policy on Palestine could not be appreciated. Now, according to its latest political conference conclusion, the same position has been repeated, albeit with some leeway that could potentially allow it to reverse or delay its recognition of Palestine once the party is in power.
However, the Labor position is an important step for the Palestinians in their struggle for legitimacy against the Israeli occupation.
In a recent interview with the Palestine Chronicle, international law expert Richard Falk, the former UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories, explained the need to distinguish symbolic politics from essential politics. He said: In the colonial wars that took place after 1945, the party that usually won was the party that won what I call the war of legitimacy, which is the symbolic battlefield, so to speak, and to maintain the principled position that was in line with the anti-colonial course of history. Practically, this meant that the militarily weak side, although losing numerous battles, often again won the war. This was true in the case of Vietnam in 1975 and South Africa in 1994. It should have been true in the case of Palestine as well.
This is why pro-Israel politicians, media experts and organizations are consuming in response to the recognition of Palestine by the ALP. Among the many angry responses, the most expressive was the position of former Australian House of Representatives member Michael Danby. He was quoted by the Australian Jewish News website as saying that ALP leader Anthony Albanese and his deputy Richard Marles had adopted the methods of former British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyns the Stalinist by suppressing the debate over foreign policy motions.
Israel and its supporters fully understand the importance of fighting the Falks legitimacy. Indeed, while Israeli military supremacy and complete domination over the occupied Palestinians may allow it to support its military occupation on the ground, it does little to advance its moral position, reputation, and legitimacy.
The fact that the ALP’s position advocates a two-state solution, which is neither fair nor practical, should not detract from the fact that recognition of Palestine is an attitude that can be used in the Palestinian quest to legitimize the Palestinian war. and the legitimization of Israeli apartheid.
The Australian position of the Labor Party is an important step for the Palestinians in their struggle for legitimacy against the Israeli occupation.
Falk’s theory of essential and symbolic politics applies here as well. While the call for a shattered two-state solution is part of the essential policy needed by international consensus, the symbolism of recognizing Palestine is a crucial step in dismantling Israel’s monopoly on the agendas of the West’s political elites. It is a complete loss of the efforts of pro-Israel lobbies.
Politicians everywhere cannot win the war of legitimacy for the Palestinians or any other oppressed nation. It is the responsibility of the Palestinians and their supporters to impose their moral agenda on the often self-serving politicians so that their symbolic policy becomes an essential day. Recognition of the Palestinian ALP is, for now, merely symbolic. However, if used properly, through pressure, advocacy and mobilization, it can turn into something meaningful in the future. This is not the responsibility of the ALP, but of the Palestinians themselves.
- Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of War and Defense in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press). Twitter: @RamzyBaroud
Responsibility: The views expressed by the writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News.
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