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U.S., U.K. Are Considering Recognition of Palestinian State

World leaders say the 'only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-state solution'

U.S., U.K. Are Considering Recognition of Palestinian State

Signaling a major shift in foreign policy, U.S. officials are now considering recognizing Palestinian statehood.

While a formal policy change has not yet manifested, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has ordered the State Department to review and present policy options on a possible U.S. and international recognition of a Palestinian state, according to unnamed officials who spoke with Axios.

Some members of the Biden administration now think recognition of a Palestinian state should potentially be the first step in negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of the last, a senior official told the publication.

The policy shift could be a boon to President Joe Biden and his re-election bid as he faces negative political fallout, criticism, and defections among his own White House staff over his handling of the conflict. The administration has so far pledged unwavering support to Israel, refusing to tie funding to any conditions, which has eroded any leverage the U.S. has over Israeli decision-making in the conflict.

International leaders continue to maintain that the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-state solution with Israel being guaranteed security and Palestinians guaranteed self-governance without apartheid conditions.

Formally recognizing Palestine is a plan likely to be received harshly by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has maintained for decades his desire to prevent a Palestinian state. As recently as last week, Netanyahu has rejected a two-state solution.

“For decades, U.S. policy has been to oppose the recognition of Palestine as a state both bilaterally and in UN institutions and to stress Palestinian statehood should only be achieved through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Axios reported. However, a desire to find a diplomatic solution to the Gaza war is opening the door for “rethinking a lot of old U.S. paradigms and policies,” a senior U.S. official told the news outlet.

The United Kingdom is also considering formally acknowledging a Palestinian state, as Israel’s bombardment of Gaza nears its 120th day.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron says the UK has a responsibility to outline what a Palestinian state would look like, according to the BBC, citing his recent speech at the Conservative Middle East Council.

"We have a responsibility there because we should be starting to set out what a Palestinian state would look like, what it would comprise, how it would work and crucially, looking at the issue, that as that happens, we with allies will look at the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state, including at the United Nations," Cameron said. "That could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible."

Like his counterparts in the U.S., Cameron says that the UK is weighing diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state not as part of a final peace deal, but early in the negotiations, the BBC reported.

“And we cannot ignore the risk that the conflict in Gaza spreads, spilling over borders into other countries in the region,” Cameron said during a Jan. 29 reception in London.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that does not happen – escalation and instability is in nobody’s interests. In Gaza, there is an urgent need for an immediate pause to allow aid in and hostages out,” he added. “We are determined to do all we can to press for a sustainable ceasefire, and are stepping up our engagement with countries in the region to make sure that happens.”

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