Protesters prepared for a family march in support of Palestine in Helsinki on May 5, 2024. LEHTIKUVA

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A coalition of non-governmental organizations is calling on Finland to officially recognize the state of Palestine, emphasizing that immediate action is essential to achieving a lasting peace in the region. The plea comes amidst continued humanitarian crises in Gaza and the longstanding Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

The NGOs highlight several urgent priorities: securing a sustainable ceasefire, delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, and lifting the illegal blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.

Beyond these immediate measures, the coalition stresses the need to address the root causes of the conflict to ensure the fundamental rights of all residents in the region, aiming to prevent future bloodshed.

"Recognizing the state of Palestine is a crucial step towards peace and the realization of human rights for everyone in the area," the statement asserts. Currently, 146 countries, including Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, and Spain, have recognized Palestine. The NGOs argue that a unified stance by the European Union on this matter is vital for finding a just resolution to the conflict, respecting both Israeli and Palestinian self-determination and human rights.

Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen recently stated that now is not the right time for Finland to recognize Palestine. Meanwhile, President Alexander Stubb indicated that Finland would acknowledge Palestinian statehood "at some point." The NGOs, however, contend that with the window for a two-state solution rapidly closing and Palestinian society's survival at stake, the time for recognition is now.

Both Palestinians and Israelis have the right to self-determination, to decide their political futures independently, and to coexist peacefully and securely with their neighbors. These principles are the foundation of the two-state solution, which has been widely supported by the international community, including the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice, as well as the EU and Finland.

Despite this broad consensus, Israel and the United States have historically opposed the implementation of a two-state solution under international law. Israel has occupied Palestinian territories, including Gaza and the West Bank, for 57 years, establishing 270 settlements in the West Bank that fragment the territory and jeopardize the viability of a Palestinian state. These settlements house approximately 750,000 Israeli settlers and are considered illegal under international humanitarian law.

The EU and Finland have consistently supported the two-state solution and do not recognize Israel's territorial claims and expansions beyond its pre-1967 borders, including in East Jerusalem. The EU views the settlements as a threat to achieving a two-state solution.

The NGOs argue that the EU now has a unique opportunity to leverage its economic and diplomatic power to advance a resolution to the conflict. Recognizing the state of Palestine would be a step toward aligning with the EU’s political positions and objectives. While symbolic, such recognition alone is insufficient.

The EU must also halt trade with illegal settlements in the West Bank. International law mandates that states not recognize or support serious violations, such as those committed by Israel. Following the annexation of Crimea, the EU banned all imports from Crimea and Sevastopol. However, it has not imposed a similar ban on goods from Israeli settlements. The NGOs urge the EU to apply its non-recognition policy consistently.

In light of these points, the NGOs call on Finland to:

  1. Recognize the state of Palestine within its internationally recognized 1967 borders.
  2. Cease all trade with illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in compliance with international law and EU non-recognition policies.
  3. Advocate for the EU to adopt a unified stance supporting these objectives.
  4. Take all necessary actions to protect civilians in the region, including delivering humanitarian aid and upholding international humanitarian law.

The coalition hopes that these steps will contribute to a fair and lasting peace in the Middle East, ensuring the rights and security of both Palestinians and Israelis.

HT

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