CARICOM (Agencies): On 19 April, 2024, Barbados, followed by Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, announced their recognition of the State of Palestine. This decision was made amidst what Barbados’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley described as the world’s first televised genocide in Gaza. With these announcements, Barbados became the 140th member of the United Nations (UN) to recognise the State of Palestine and the 11th member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to do so.

The Caribbean Against Apartheid in Palestine (CAAP), an advocacy group for Palestine based in Barbados, welcomed the news, stating it was long overdue. CAAP’s Secretary Lalu Hanuman expressed: “It was a long time in coming, but we have at last got to the mountain top. The Palestinian people have been struggling for their freedom from a racist colonial settler movement since Britain’s Balfour Declaration in 1917. They have endured countless massacres over the years from the Zionists, culminating in the current genocide in Gaza.”

The State of Palestine was officially declared by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on 15 November, 1988, claiming sovereignty over the internationally recognised Palestinian territories: the West Bank, which includes East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. By the end of 1988, the Palestinian state was recognised by 78 countries, including Cuba, the first in the Caribbean region. The State of Palestine was accepted as an observer state of the UN General Assembly in November 2012.

While the US doesn’t recognise the Palestinian state and vetoed Palestine’s full membership of the UN as recently as 18 April, 2024, CARICOM member states have long engaged with the Palestinian people. Guyana led the CARICOM states by recognising the Palestinian state some 13 years ago in 2011, followed by Suriname, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Belize, Dominica and Antigua & Barbuda the same year. Grenada and Haiti did so in 2013, St Lucia in 2015 and St Kitts and Nevis in 2019.

Barbados’s long-overdue recognition is probably best explained by its long association with the State of Israel. Minister Symmonds noted this in his press conference: “Since 29 August of 1967, Barbados has had a formal recognition of the State of Israel, and the relationship between the two countries has been an exceptionally good one. We have benefitted tremendously through technical cooperation with the State of Israel in a number of fields, not the least of which is our efforts at food security and agriculture…”

A two-state solution at this time may very well be a moot point as Israel continues to decimate the Gaza Strip while enabling settlers in the West Bank to continue their aggressive expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands.

Belize, a CARICOM member-state, has gone a step further beyond recognition. In November 2023, in the wake of the violations of international humanitarian law and the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza by Israel, the Belizean Government announced the suspension of diplomatic ties with the State of Israel.

As the people of the world, including students and professors at universities across the US, vigorously pursue their governments and institutions to do right by the Palestinian people, CARICOM member states may have to consider following Belize’s lead and reevaluate their relationship with the Israeli state amidst their continued aggression, occupation, apartheid policies and genocide of Palestinians.

By Media

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