Why Palestine isn’t a state

When the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) achieved recognition as a non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly in 2012 it was against the wishes of The United States and Israel, as well as a handful of other nations. More importantly perhaps, this technical upgrade for the ‘State of Palestine’ has had little impact in terms of the reality ‘on the ground’ in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli and Egyptian forces continue to contain the – Hamas governed – Gaza Strip by sealing its land borders, patrolling its air space, preventing access to aid supplies by the Mediterranean Sea and tightly controlling the movement of both people and goods in or out. The situation is not much better in the West Bank, despite the fact that it is governed by a Western-friendly regime in the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The larger of the two Palestinian territories is highly fragmented; it is physically cut off from East Jerusalem its de jure capital, its economy is moribund and the number of Israeli settlers living there in violation of the fourth Geneva convention has surpassed 500,000 and continues to grow. While across all of occupied Palestine human rights violations are ubiquitous and carried out on a daily basis by the occupying Israeli military forces and, as well, by the two rival Palestinian governments which are both starved of legitimacy. It seems then that little changed from the period prior to the PLO’s upgrade at the UN. This may be unsurprising given the nature of Palestine’s international context, particularly: an Israeli government dominated by politicians espousing irredentist and revisionist narrative of the conflict and stalwart support of that government by the United States, the sole hyper-power of our time.