Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Despite the fact that the majority of the US member nations have already recognized Palestine as a sovereign state, the very statehood of the Palestinians has become lifeless. In the raw of the countries, rushing for recognizing Palestine, Columbia has been the latest. This surprising decision came last month and the newly elected President of the country, Ivan Duque, said that he will not reverse his predecessor’s surprising decision last month to recognize a Palestinian state.
“Damage was done by the fact that there was not more institutional discussion. [Former] president [Juan Manuel] Santos told me that he had made that decision, but it is irreversible,” Duque said.
“We would have benefited from more analyses [about the pros and cons of recognizing Palestine], but we should be part of the solution, not the problem,” he said.
Any government governs until it is replaced by its successor administration, and therefore Santos’s decision cannot be disputed and will stand, he said.
While the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem declined to comment on Duque’s statement, Deputy Minister Michael Oren said the Colombian president’s decision not to annul his predecessor’s lame-duck recognition of Palestine was “damaging” to Jerusalem’s longstanding friendship with Bogota.
“Even worse — the decision directly harms the peace process by giving the Palestinians free of charge what they could have received in exchange for concessions in future negotiations. So now, why should the Palestinians want to negotiate at all?” he said in a statement.
“Perhaps the Colombians feel they are obligated to help the Palestinians,” Oren went on, “but in fact they are misleading them in the belief that they can achieve a Palestinian state without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.”
Colombia — Israel’s closest ally in South America — until last month was the only country on the continent that refused to recognize a Palestinian state.
Earlier this year, candidate Duque openly mulled moving his country’s embassy to Jerusalem and vowed to further improve already close ties between Bogota and Jerusalem.
But just one day after Duque’s August 7 inauguration, news emerged that the outgoing Santos administration had quietly recognized a Palestinian state.
A few days earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had announced his plan to attend the new president’s inauguration in Bogota, but less than a week later, on August 2, he canceled the trip, citing the volatile security situation in Israel’s south.
On August 3, Colombia’s outgoing foreign minister, María Ángela Holguín, sent a letter to Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, informing him that her boss had “decided to recognize Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state.”
The outgoing government had informed the new one of its plans, but both kept them from the public until after Duque’s inauguration.
Jerusalem was surprised by the recognition, but the Israeli embassy immediately issued an angry statement saying it was “deeply disappointed,” not only by the fact that the government recognized Palestine, but also “by the way it was done.”
It was no way to treat a close ally, the embassy statement fumed, demanding that Colombia’s new government reverse the decision.
The incoming vice president and foreign minister at the time said the Palestine recognition was done legally, but that the new government would review the decision. In deciding what to do next, it would take two aspects into consideration, Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said Wednesday: international law, and Colombia’s foreign relations.
Israel’s ambassador in Bogota, Marco Sermoneta, met incoming Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez, who listened to his complaints and promised to convey them to Duque. She also reiterated that Colombia values the “strategic importance” of its ties with Israel.
For years, Colombia had been Israel’s most reliable friend in South America.
When 138 countries voted in favor of granting “Palestine” observer state status at the UN General Assembly in 2012, Colombia abstained, as it did when 128 countries voted to condemn the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year.
As a thank you for the longstanding support, Netanyahu last September became the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country.
“Under your leadership in recent years it’s been a remarkable alliance [between Israel and Colombia] of faith and values, faith in the future,” Netanyahu told Santos in Bogota’s Narino presidential palace.
I fail to understand what prompted Columbia is suddenly recognizing Palestine at a time when the very statehood seems to be totally lifeless. Even Palestinian Arabs are now realizing a plain fact that their dream of a state is not viable as they do not have the leaders to govern them. They actually have just two options – jumping on to the laps of a mega terrorist outfit Hamas or the crooks belonging to Fatah. None of these groups can ever ensure peace and happiness to the Arabs. Instead, if they embrace the one-state policy and accept Israel as their country, it will not only resolve the crisis but also will bring lots of good things to the Palestinians.
But notorious countries like Iran won’t let this happen. Instead, they would give instigation to the Palestinians in continuing terror with Israel and create the future generation of the Arabs as mere terrorists. By doing so, Iran actually is gaining. They are turning a Sunni Muslim Arab community into rogue or terrorists. Hopefully the Arabs will now realize this fact before it gets too late.
There had never been any place named Palestine in the history of the world. So, some crooks must have made this wrong theory with certain ulterior motives. For the Palestinians, prosperity and happiness remains only if they hoist the flag of Israel within every territory and make an open call to Israel to issue citizenship to them. Such steps can help Palestinians in establishing peace in the Middle East. Hope good sense finally shall prevail!