There’s a moment in the novel The Parisian in which a bunch of Arab Palestinians in Nablus in 1920 read a newspaper report that King Faisal has declared himself head of an independent Greater Syria. Most of the group cheers, but one man turns to another and says: “Does it say where Syria is?”

What he wants to know is: What are the borders of this magically declared new independent state, and do they extend to where he is standing?

That’s the question everyone should be wondering today, as the governments of Ireland, Norway, and Spain have taken the rare step of recognizing the state of Palestine. And where is this existing state of Palestine? Well, according to Irish prime minister Simon Harris, it doesn’t physically exist yet: “We had hoped to recognize Palestine as part of a two-state peace deal, but instead we recognize Palestine to keep the hope of that two-state solution alive.”

In other words, the Irish government hoped to recognize a real state, but for the time being it will recognize an imaginary one.

If the Irish premier is right, however, he just solved the conflict. There’s no need to worry about keeping the two-state solution alive, because he just recognized the two states. Of course, if he doesn’t believe the state has borders yet, where is he going to put the embassy? Never mind.

Recognizing the state of Palestine while Hamas is in power explicitly and literally empowers and legitimizes Hamas as a governing entity. There is no wiggle room there. So, asked why he would legitimize Hamas now, Harris made clear that he didn’t really think about that part: “Hamas is not the Palestinian people, and here in Ireland, better than most countries in the world, we know what it’s like when a terrorist organization seeks to hijack your identity and seeks to speak for you.”

Now, it may sound from these comments that the trio of European leaders have made a rather thoughtless and dim move. But in fact Spanish premier Pedro Sanchez took great pains to clarify that the intentions behind this joint recognition announcement were evil, not stupid: “Spain will be accompanied by other European countries. The more there are of us, the sooner we will achieve a ceasefire. We are not going to give up.”

So the point of timing the announcement now was to save Hamas by stopping the war before the terror group loses control of the Gaza Strip. The three governments sought to legitimize Hamas, yes, but even more so they wanted to take action that might rescue Hamas from defeat and keep it in power in this new state of Palestine.

The Israelis are unhappy, of course. And they are right to be. But the Palestinians have lost even more by this stunt. Rewarding Hamas for a Nazi-like campaign of rape and murder is an ostentatious rebuke of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and the entire strategy of negotiating with Israel.

In other words, this is an anti-recognition recognition. It is more important to European leaders that they recognize Palestine than it is for the Israelis and Palestinians to recognize each other. Instead of rewarding steps toward normalization, they are incentivizing permanent war.

But most important of all is a very simple, and indisputable, point: Hamas is an enemy of the two-state solution and therefore of Palestinian national self-determination. Pretty much every declared goal of the international community regarding the current conflict can be solved only by defeating Hamas. That is the necessary, but not always sufficient, condition for the success of the West’s stated aims.

Want a two-state solution? Remove from power the terrorist gang in Gaza preventing it. Want a normalization deal with the Saudis? Not without a commitment to Hamas’s defeat, because the last thing Riyadh will do is publicly throw its lot in with a fickle superpower that keeps acting in Iran’s best interests. Want Gazans resettled back to their homes and the Strip rebuilt? Defeat Hamas, which commandeered a massive amount of private property to build its terror tunnels, kidnapping infrastructure, and other aspects of its war machine. Want Gazans to stop worrying about their next meal? Vanquish Hamas, which bombs the food-aid crossings and steals whatever manages to make it through anyway. Want to end the constant state of war in the region? Stop enabling Hamas to rearm via its supply tunnel to and from Egypt—which requires, yes, defeating Hamas.

But the governments of Spain, Ireland, and Norway made clear today that they acted because they don’t want Hamas to be defeated. And if they don’t want Hamas gone, that means they want the Palestinians in Gaza to continue living under the hell of a barbaric and totalitarian death cult. Perhaps the Palestinians, like the Israelis, deserve better friends.

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