If the Palestinians go ahead with their plans to declare a state later this year, the United States should recognize it.
There really is no good reason not to.
After all, ever since the days of Lyndon B. Johnson, presidents from both parties have expressed support for the return of the occupied territories in exchange for peace. No nation, other than Israel itself, recognizes any of that land — including Arab East Jerusalem — as part of Israel. And the United Nations, which issued Israel its birth certificate in 1947, appears ready to do the same for the State of Palestine this summer.
It was once widely assumed that creation of the Palestinian state would be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians. No more. The final nail in the direct-negotiations coffin was driven by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when he coldly rejected President Obama’s offer of an extra $3.5 billion in U.S. aid in exchange for a 90-day settlement freeze.
Netanyahu couldn’t even bring himself to explicitly reject an offer he considered so contemptible. He just left it (and President Obama) dangling in the wind while he issued more building permits for settlers and expulsion orders for Palestinians.
It is now clear that although Israel would like to achieve peace with the Palestinians, it is not willing to pay much of a price for it. It will not even negotiate over Arab East Jerusalem. It intends to keep not only the West Bank settlements but also the lands and fields near those settlements — plus the settlers-only highways that connect the settlements. It will not free blockaded Gaza from its grip, maintaining full control over its airspace, seaports, and land entry points.