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US must rejoin international community by recognizing the state of Palestine

More than 100 nations around the world have recognized the state of Palestine. Why won't the United States? President Obama can redeem America's 'rogue' status by supporting Palestine's effort to join the United Nations later this year.

By John V. Whitbeck / January 12, 2011


On Jan. 7, Chile extended diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine as a free, independent, and sovereign state. This comes soon after the recent recognitions by Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador. (In each of those cases, the state of Palestine was recognized explicitly within the full pre-1967 borders, encompassing all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.) Chile’s recognition brought to 109 the number of UN member states recognizing the state of Palestine, whose independence was proclaimed on Nov. 15, 1988.

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While still under foreign belligerent occupation, the state of Palestine possesses all the customary international law criteria for sovereign statehood. No portion of its territory is recognized by any other country (other than Israel) as any other country’s sovereign territory, and, indeed, Israel has only asserted sovereignty over a small portion of its territory – expanded East Jerusalem – leaving sovereignty over the rest both literally and legally uncontested.

In this context, it is enlightening to consider the quality as well as the quantity of the states extending diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine.

Of the world’s nine most populous states, eight (all except the United States) recognize the state of Palestine. Of the world’s 20 most populous states, 15 (all except the United States, Japan, Mexico, Germany, and Thailand) recognize the state of Palestine. Even eight EU member states recognize the state of Palestine.

The contrast with Kosovo

By contrast, the 73 UN member states that currently recognize the Republic of Kosovo as an independent state include only one of the nine most populous states (the United States) and only four of the 20 most populous states (the United States, Japan, Germany, and Turkey).


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