After yet another violent weekend in Gaza, including horrific murders from an al-Qaeda affiliate taking advantage of Egyptian chaos to strike far outside Gaza’s border, it’s worth reflecting on the Palestinian Authority’s expected bid for statehood next month at the U.N.
Under international law, statehood has long been determined by the Montevideo criteria, named after the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, which essentially codified the theory of statehood recognized under customary international law Article 1 states:
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.
This weekend’s attacks demonstrate (yet again) that the Palestinian Authority cannot satisfy these basic criteria. Its declared intention is to assert independence along the 1967 armistice lines between Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, yet the PA does not govern Gaza, has no control over its territory, and cannot enter into relations with other states so long as Hamas and its al-Qaeda allies routinely violate the U.N. Charter through aggressive, terroristic violence.
The Montevideo criteria echo common sense. How can an entity govern territory it doesn’t control? How can a single state exist with divided government? How can a government enter into treaties or other forms of relations with other states when its largest population center is apt to attack its neighbors or violate their sovereignty without warning? How can a government comply with the U.N. Charter when its largest population center is under the control of a declared terrorist organization, an organization that is actively circumventing virtually every relevant and applicable international legal or moral norm?
The permanent members of the Security Council should take note. Every rocket from Gaza is a deadly reminder: There is no Palestinian state.