Recognition: the pros and cons

Recognition: the pros and cons

In an interview Monday with a Palestinian news group, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel is “free to call itself the Israeli Zionist Jewish Empire.”
He said that in response to calls from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
All posturing aside, Abbas’ remark was offensive, but it was something else he said in the same interview that caught our eye.
Remarking that Israel’s Jewishness is none of his business, Abbas said, “if Israel wants Palestinian negotiators to recognize its state, it should also recognize a Palestinian state.”
OK, why not?
Seriously, maybe Israel should consider recognizing the Palestinian Authority right now as an independent state. It would be an even up trade — formal recognition of a Palestinian a state in return for formal recognition of a Jewish state.
There would actually be some practical advantages to Israel:
• It would shut up the Israel critics (some of them anyway) who claim Zionism equals apartheid — kind of hard to make that claim when the Palestinians have their own state — a state whose economy grew at an 8 percent clip last year. Where’s the apartheid in that?
• It would show the world that Israel is serious about a two-state solution. What could be more serious than granting diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state, way ahead of the family of nations, including Arab states?
• It would require no land-for-peace moves. The borders of this new Palestinian state would be just as unsettled as the Jewish state’s, even after formal recognition. The heavy lifting of negotiations would have to continue.
And what are the cons? Well, there would be another anti-Israel vote at the United Nations. So what? It could pose a threat to Jerusalem and its Jewish suburbs, but we doubt a nation enjoying the beginnings of economic prosperity would risk it all on a war it couldn’t win.
The biggest hurdle may be how to recognize a state that hasn’t formally declared independence itself. Clearly, it’s to Abbas’ advantage to bide his time on this issue while the Palestinians continue to curry sympathy from the world community as the “victims” of the conflict.
And no doubt many Jews, both in and out of Israel, would howl at the suggestion of recognition now.
For those reasons, the proposal may be entirely preposterous. Or is it?
Granting unilateral recognition to a Palestinian state could be a heinous idea that would divide the Jewish people; it could also be a shrewd diplomatic move that would put the proverbial ball in Abbas’ court. Either way, he made the dare. Israel should at least consider taking it.