Pro-Israel group wants PM to retract recognition of Palestine

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. – File photo by Ayanna Kinsale

A local proxy for Israeli interests in Trinidad and Tobago has written to the Prime Minister over this country’s recognition of the State of Palestine.

The Understanding Israel Foundation (UIF) group has written to the Prime Minister with its concerns.

The letter was sent on June 4 by attorney Jose Young.

Young said the UIF often acts as an intermediary between international private clients and Israeli interests and frequently serves as a local proxy for the State of Israel.

Young’s letter cited the Oslo Accords on interim self-government arrangements (1993), which were intended to establish the framework for the gradual introduction of Palestinian self-governance, saying Trinidad and Tobago’s recognition violated these accords.

“This unilateral recognition risks undermining the structured negotiation process agreed upon by the international community and the parties directly involved in the conflict.

“It not only has implications for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process but also sets a concerning precedent for the international legal order concerning the recognition of state entities.”

The UIF said the Oslo Accords require Palestinian statehood to be determined through direct negotiation.

It also said the recognition contravened the Vienna Convention, which mandates that treaties must be adhered to in good faith and without unilateral actions.

“Recognising Palestine as a state under these circumstances can be seen as premature and potentially contrary to the principles of international law that govern state recognition.”

The letter said Palestine, at this time, did not meet all criteria for statehood under international conventions, as it specifically lacked defined territory and full governmental control.

The group noted that Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for decades, was a declared terrorist organisation.

The letter continued, “The recognition and apparent support of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, which seemingly gives this terrorist organisation legitimacy, is troubling and calls into question whether the current government’s ideological views still align with traditional Western principles.”

The UIF said Trinidad and Tobago’s recognition contravened the principle of legal consistency in international relations and “sets a dangerous precedent, undermining international legal processes and potentially destabilising other international conflicts.”

“Additionally, this move could be perceived as an attempt by the government to align with what it considers popular opinion.”

The group warned that the recognition could strain TT’s relations with key Western allies and result in diplomatic isolation of the country, while also leading to “increased tensions.”

“The long-term implications of this decision could shape TT’s international standing.”

“This action disregards the need for negotiated settlements and could destabilise the region by setting a dangerous precedent for bypassing international legal processes.

“Moreover, this decision risks straining diplomatic relations with key allies and diminishes TT’s standing in the international community.

“Supporting Palestinian aspirations is commendable, but they must be done within the bounds of international law and consensus.

“TT must reconsider its stance to avoid jeopardising the delicate balance necessary for a lasting peace in the Middle East and maintain its commitment to international legal norms and diplomatic integrity.”

Dr Rowley was asked for a formal response justifying the decision in two weeks.

“Should the response fail to demonstrate a reasonable and legal decision-making process, we urge you to revoke the recognition of the State of Palestine.

“Failing to do so may lead to the ostracisation of TT by many of the world’s most powerful nations and signal a shift in our country’s ideological stance,” the Prime Minister was told.

On May 2, Cabinet announced its decision to formally recognise the State of Palestine, joining scores of neighbouring Caricom countries and the international community.

“TT has been a longstanding advocate of the two-state solution, as we believe that this is the only credible path to peace and security for Palestinians, the Israelis and, by extension, the wider region.

“Recognition of Palestine is moral and just and demonstrates TT’s acknowledgement of and support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian People. TT will join 141 other countries that recognise Palestine, Algeria being the first to have done so in 1988,” the statement from Cabinet said.