Spain and the USA note their different strategies for peace

Spain and the United States have different strategies to achieve peace in the Gaza war.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 May 2024 Saturday 05:35
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Spain and the USA note their different strategies for peace

Spain and the United States have different strategies to achieve peace in the Gaza war. This was confirmed yesterday by the heads of diplomacy of the two countries, José Manuel Albares and Antony Blinken, who held a working meeting in Washington. While Spain claims that it "cannot wait any longer" to recognize Palestine, the United States claims that it is better to take the step when definitive peace is reached on the principle of two states.

Yesterday was not an easy day in Foggy Bottom, the old funky, swampy land where the State Department is located. The rain accentuated the difficulty of the moment.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in favor of the recognition of Palestine by a large majority while Blinken was finalizing a report on Israel's use of the weapons that the US sends it to fight Hamas. The conclusion is not good for the Biden Administration. US weapons and ammunition have killed thousands of civilians in Gaza.

Support for Israel conditions Biden's campaign for re-election and, despite sharing with Spain the urgency of a ceasefire that allows the release of hostages and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, Blinken does not believe that recognizing Palestine now helps to achieve peace. Yesterday, the US voted against the UN resolution while Spain voted for it.

Albares believes that it is the right time to recognize the Palestinian State, something he can do very soon, perhaps in the Council of Ministers on the 21st.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs also considers that the strategy is "the best guarantee for peace" because "it will make the two-state solution irreversible".

Washington and Madrid agree that this must be the final outcome of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and that the Islamist movement Hamas cannot participate in this definitive solution.

The Palestinian declaration of independence was approved by the Palestinian National Council in Algiers in 1988 and proclaimed by Yassir Arafat, leader of the PLO. It was a symbolic and poetic gesture. The text was written by Mahmud Darwish, Palestinian national poet, and 143 countries have joined. They are almost all from the global south and a few Europeans, including those from the former Soviet bloc – thanks to the good relationship the OAP had with the USSR –, in addition to Iceland and Sweden. Spain will join this block and it is likely that Ireland and Malta will also take the step.

Recognition has no practical effect. Palestine already has a diplomatic representation in Spain. The value is, above all, symbolic and it is from the consolidation of this symbol that Albares hopes that Israel will end up accepting that it needs to share the land with Palestine in order to normalize relations with the rest of the Arab world and live in peace.

Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Greece, the Baltic republics, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Canada, Japan and South Korea, among other states, share with the US that it would be better to wait for the recognition of Palestine can be something more than a symbol. They think it would be a good tool to negotiate with Israel.

Albares and Blinken were together for almost an hour and a half. They reviewed many topics, including Ukraine and China, the Sahel and Central America. They also signed a memorandum on disinformation. They believe that it is essential that the liberal democracies form a common front against this threat which comes mainly from Russia and China.

Memoranda like this – last year Spain and the USA signed one on the climate – have a more symbolic than practical effect, but at the same time, they mean an awareness of a problem and the best way to deal with it.

Disinformation dominates the electoral campaigns and there are two very important ones on the horizon, the European ones in June and the American ones in November. Lies fuel citizens' cynicism and mistrust of institutions. Fighting them with laws and technology but also from the symbolism of a memorandum is important.

Palestine, however, is even more complicated. There is no conflict with more symbolic and emotional charge. Adding more with a recognition of the Palestinian state is what the United States believes will not help. Blinken would prefer measures that are more prosaic than poetic.