Israel Formally Rejects Unilateral Recognition of a Palestinian State

The Israeli government on Sunday approved a resolution rejecting any international attempts to impose a Palestinian state on Israel, saying that Israel would have to directly negotiate any “permanent” arrangement with the Palestinians.

The largely symbolic move followed recent comments from some of Israel’s allies suggesting that they might consider simply recognizing a Palestinian state ahead of any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who brought the resolution to his cabinet, described its approval as a “declarative decision” that was needed “in light of remarks that have been heard recently in the international community.”

The resolution — which bolsters a position Mr. Netanyahu had already staked out several times in recent days — comes as the Biden administration has been trying to broker a deal for the normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. U.S. and Saudi officials have said that the prospect of that happening hinges on Israel’s agreeing to work toward a two-state solution — meaning the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu has rebuffed recent pressure from President Biden to agree to that path after the war in Gaza is over and in recent weeks doubled down on his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state.

The final wording of the Israeli government resolution appeared to have been carefully crafted with the aim of accommodating both ultranationalist members of Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing government, who oppose the very notion of negotiations with the Palestinians, and the centrists who joined the government to help oversee the war in Gaza after the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7.

It did not explicitly rule out the possibility of Palestinian statehood, focusing instead on the process.

“Israel utterly rejects international diktats regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians,” the resolution read, adding, “A settlement, if it is to be reached, will come about solely through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.”

David Cameron, Britain’s foreign secretary, said last month that a top priority was to give the Palestinian people “a political horizon so that they can see that there is going to be irreversible progress to a two-state solution and crucially the establishment of a Palestinian state.” That led to speculation that Britain might be willing to move up conversations about formal recognition of Palestinian statehood.

After a meeting on Friday with King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Emmanuel Macron of France said, “Recognition of a Palestinian state is not a taboo for France.” It was unclear if Mr. Macron was referring to France’s longstanding support for a two-state solution in general, or to the idea of giving early recognition before any negotiated agreement is reached between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The Israeli government decision concluded that the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks “would be a massive and unprecedented reward to terrorism and would prevent any future peace settlement.”

Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist party that joined Mr. Netanyahu’s government in October, said on Sunday that the normalization process with Saudi Arabia was an important effort that he was working to promote. But in a speech at a conference in Jerusalem, Mr. Gantz added that he would like “to emphasize to our friends around the world — after Oct. 7, the pathway to regional stability and peace is not through one-sided actions like recognition of a Palestinian state not agreed beforehand with the state of Israel.”

Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.

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