Stop the violence and recognize a Palestinian state

23 October 2023

Stop the violence and recognize a Palestinian state

After the horrible acts of Hamas, we now see the Israeli army carrying out a massacre in Gaza. This violence needs to stop as soon as possible. A structural solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict must be worked on. Such a process includes recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

The revolting attacks and killings by Hamas against innocent civilians must be condemned. They have no justification. The Israeli hostages must be released at once. We greatly sympathize with them and their families.

For two weeks now there has been merciless bombing by the Israeli army on Gaza. Here too, the suffering of so many innocent civilians is heart-breaking. In response to the terror by Hamas, the Dutch government directly gave "unconditional support" to Israel. That position raises more questions each day. For the bombings by the Israeli army are not always in line with international law. This law says that civilian casualties must be avoided as much as possible. Collective punishment of a population is not allowed. Two things the Israeli army is guilty of.

More than two million residents of Gaza are at great risk by the bombings. Each day we see destroyed housing estates with many dead, desperate people and frightened children. The blockade of Gaza means there is very little aid. Basic necessities such as electricity, water and medicine hardly get in, and this creates a humanitarian tragedy.

What is crucial now is a lasting cease-fire and an end to the bloodshed. The Palestinians who have nothing to do with Hamas must have the chance to get to safety. Aid supplies must be allowed in. The Dutch government must make a much clearer and firmer commitment.

Right now war crimes are committed on a large scale. The Netherlands always talks about stopping them. After all, The Hague is the City of Peace and Justice. So the government should now call for independent investigations into war crimes.


We also need to look at a structural solution. To us, that is the recognition of a Palestinian state, which is to follow automatically from a two-state solution. This state must follow the pre-1967 borders as much as possible, in accordance with international law. A Palestinian state should have territory in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Netherlands can do this, since our Constitution supports the international rule of law.

Our instinct tells us this is further away than ever, but it is probably the most promising route to bring peace closer and reduce the breeding ground for more terror. After all, both the people of Israel and the Palestinians have the right to a safe environment that is free of violence.

One of the root causes of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East is the structural imbalance between Israel and Palestine. Both countries are recognized by a majority of UN member states, but Israel occupies much of Palestine, builds illegal settlements and rules the Palestinian borders. That makes one country the master of the other. It creates structural imbalance in the region and a situation of total hopelessness for the Palestinian people. All of which, unfortunately, will provide fertile ground for extremism.

Calling for recognition of Palestine explicitly confirms that a two-state solution is the only chance of ending the conflict and having a lasting peace based on recognition of both states as sovereign lands. A recognized Palestinian state would have full jurisdiction over its territory, rather than Israel continually intervening from outside. The condition for a state of its own for Palestine is mutual recognition of its right to exist. Israel must recognize Palestine; Palestine must recognize Israel.

Israel must be called upon to stop what the UN considers the illegal occupation of Palestine. The Palestinian government will then have the power and opportunity to restore the rule of law. An independent Palestine is entitled to full recognition of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. To live up to that integrity domestically, Palestine will need to hold free parliamentary elections as soon as possible.

As many as 138 of the 193 UN countries say the Palestinian territories are a state. The Dutch government is planning to say this, too, but it has not decided when. As far as we are concerned, the time has come. That is why we will make the proposal on Tuesday at the Lower House debate on the European summit.

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