Thailand Recognizes Palestinian State

Following the recent issue of a terror warning lead by the US to all of its citizens in Thailand and followed by a dozen or so other nations, the government of Thailand issues a statement recognizing the Palestinian State.  But why?

First we have to look at the story that came out just a couple of days before this story.  Both the US and Israel issued a terror alert for all of its citizens living in Thailand because of intelligence of a very real and credible threat.  Other key nations began to follow suit.

But what was the story before even this one?  Thailand has just recovered from one of the worst periods of flooding in over fifty years. Almost a thousand souls perished and the Thai economy took a beating, especially in the area of tourism.  This tough period in 2011 followed a very volatile election period and civil unrest in 2010.

Tourism in Thailand is one of its largest national money makers accounting for 7% of its GDP.  Thailand is desperate to recover its foreign tourist revenue.  The nation is struggling to get back on its feet after fighting the devastating effects of the flooding for many months.

When the US and Israel issued the warning, they essentially scared off many would-be travelers.  This infuriated the Thai government who worked hard to down play the threat even though they made an arrest of a Lebanese man with connections to Hezbollah and found bomb large stashes of bomb making materials just outside of Bangkok in Samut Sakorn.

The Nation newspaper in Bangkok reported,

“Foreign Affairs spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said Thailand was disappointed the US had opted to issue its travel alert before consulting the Thai authorities.

“Despite the close monitoring [of the situation] and mutual cooperation between the two countries, the travel warning was issued with a direct impact on Thailand,” he said.

Officials would seek to form an understanding on the issue with the US, he said.”

So it is clear that Thailand was trying to keep some things just between themselves and their US government counterparts in order to minimize the impact on tourism, but the Americans were not going to stay silent when it came to protecting their citizens in Thailand.

A few days later, the Thai government issues a statement officially recognizing the State of Palestine.  Bam!

Thai police officers carried boxes of fertilizer and ammonium nitrate confiscated from a warehouse near Bangkok. Only a few of the nearly 9,000 lbs that was confiscated.

They boldly chose to declare their national support for a Palestinian State to the distain one of their key regional military allies and friends, the US, and one of their key tourist allies and friends, Israel.  Many Israelis live in and travel through Thailand over the course of a year.  Their numbers in Thailand are increasing according to some reports.

Not the smartest move the government could have made.

What was in it for Thailand?

I can only see it being a clear message to Hezbollah and other such organizations that Thailand is not their enemy.  It’s as if they are saying “Please don’t strike here.  We desperately need the tourists to keep coming and you are going to mess everything up.”  It’s as if they made the statement as a concession for peace rather than simply continuing to take a bold stand against terrorist plots on their soil and standing even stronger for the protection of their Western guests.  Could it also be a stab at the US and Israel for issuing the warning without their ok?

I don’t blame our leaders for trying to keep Hezbollah away from Thailand, but I don’t think making this statement did anything to help them.  In fact, it only angered two of their best friends who were simply trying to protect their citizens living abroad from a very real and credible threat.

They would do better to work on clamping down on the reasons that international terrorists and criminals consider Thailand a great place to work!  In a recent article, Thailand’s Nation Newspaper pointed this out clearly by saying,

“It is an open secret that Thailand is a haven for terrorists as well as transnational criminal groups. For decades, they have been using the country as a center to procure illegal materials (arms, drugs or banned chemical and explosive substances), laundry money, forging foreign currencies and travelling documents. Given its centrality in the continental Southeast Asia with nearly one-thousand flights daily in operation, Thailand remains “the” ideal logistic hub for terrorist operations elsewhere. Still, the concerned Thai authorities are not up to the task.”

Given this reality, Thailand needs to understand that America will “speak straight” and not hide critical warnings from its citizens when it discovers a real and credible imminent threat.  It also needs to understand that America is a key ally of the state of Israel and has said that it cannot recognize a Palestinian state as long as it refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and protect itself.


Here Are A Few Others Of Interest...

  • Troy Anderson

    Hi John – Interesting thoughts, and important issues. But I’m a bit confused about your conclusion that the USA has said that it cannot recognize a Palestinian state as long as Palestine refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.

    I have many thoughts and questions for you, and this is all submitted in honestly and humility, though I think your analysis is off. A few questions:

    Where did you read that the right-to-exist issues is the basis of current US policy towards rejecting Palestinian statehood?

    And where did you read that Palestine currently refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist?

    And what do you see as Hezbollah’s role in Palestine? Perhaps you have them confused with Hamas?

    A significant basis of the 1993 Oslo Accords was that the PLO both recognized Israel’s right to exist and denounced terrorism as state policy. This won Arafat and Rabin the Nobel Peace Prize, led Israel to an eventual military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and led to the formation of the Palestinian Authority. Though commentators since then like to bring up the right-to-exist issue, that has not been a primary issue since 1993.

    Read the text of Obama’s 2011 speech to the United Nations explaining why the US opposes Palestinian statehood now and nowhere does he talk about the right-to-exist issue. The same for his speech in 2010 which called for Palestinian statehood to be recognized by the UN within the year. The issue is not the right-to-exist or the right to self-defense. The issues today are what the borders of a future Palestinian state should be; concerns about Israel’s security given that Hamas and other organizations (not the PNA) still oppose Israel; what to do with Jerusalem as a joint capital; the fate of Palestinian refugees; and the fate of illegal Israeli settlements.

    To be clear, there are many Palestinians who still oppose Israel, some violently. There are also many Israelis who oppose the idea of a Palestianian state, many doing so through illegal and forceful seizure of Palestinian lands. But the issue is not the right-to-exist. The issue at the UN is whether Palestine can declare independence unilaterally, whether this is a violation of the Oslo Accords, and the US and its allies preference to have the thorny issues I mentioned above be settled in negotiations between both sides, not through a unilateral declaration by Palestine.

    I know that these issues can be complex and divisive, and I don’t want to sound like I think I know it all. But I think it seriously undermines our credibility as Christians and calls into question our integrity when so many adopt a false view of the Palestinian issue. Many of the Palestinians are by no means saints, and some are outright criminals, and many want to destroy Israel. But that’s not the reason the US refuses to join the 129 UN member states who have already recognized Israel.

    Given that these 129 nations represent 67% of the UN member states and over 80% of the world’s population, Thailand is merely joining the vast majority of global opinion in saying that the State of Palestine should be recognized.

    There may be some shenanigans going on behind the scenes concerning what you see as curious timing for Thailand’s announcement, but it’s clearly the US and some of its western allies who are holding the minority, fringe position on this issue, not Thailand.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • John Lambert

    Thanks for writing Troy.

    First off, I believe that there is no people group called the Palestinians, but since they have become a defacto entity its a real mess to even get into the politics of it. Its like trying to debate and explain the realities of volumes 20-30 of a fiction novel when part 1 isn’t real.

    Arafat renounced Israel’s right to exist, there are dozens of recorded statement where he does not recognize Israel, and that rhetoric is constantly echoed by virtually every Muslim organization and government.

    As far as the link with Hezbollah, their influence in the entire region is massive and their very creed is the destruction of Israel and freeing of “Palestine”, Hamas is similar, but Hezbollah has more reach internationally.

    Israel kept their end of the bargain regarding “deals” made (including the disastrous joke Oslo accords) and in turn no “Palestinian” gov’t or entity kept their side of the deal while continuing to openly call for Israel’s destruction and constantly refusing Israel’s right to exist.

    Troy you are a good intellectual person, but it may be that you want to be a Bible believing Christian yet discuss these issues from a footing like those who reject God’s word and have developed complex political and intellectual acrobatics to mask their clear objectives to destroy Israel. The issue is not Palestinian borders in the view of the majority, its the fact that Israel has borders at all — they want all of Israel. .

    So while there may be some tit-for-tat hairs to split and accuracy in your details, I can’t get away from the fact that the scriptures give ownership of this land to the Jews, and you call that illegal — illegal to who?

    I suspect you may be one who doesn’t believe modern day Israel has anything to do with God’s will or promises. I would disagree.

    To me these things are not as relevant. What is relevant is a “heart’s desire and prayer for Israel’s salvation” (Rom 10:1) as well as the salvation of those who would call themselves Palestinians.

    Thanks for engaging, but this will be all I say on the matter. Blessings to you.

  • Troy Anderson

    So, I guess you don’t want to discuss this anymore. Interesting. All the best.

  • John Lambert

    I just have other things that I should be focused on. Blessings to you.

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