International Recognition of Palestine

There are few places on Earth that are as geopolitically complex and controversial as Palestine, a nation that not everyone agrees is a nation. How did this come to be? And which countries recognize Palestine?

We’ll shed some light on these questions as we explore a brief history of Palestine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and international recognition of Palestine. See our post on the international recognition of Israel to see how the two compare.

Below is a map of Palestine, comprising the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, its major cities, and its borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.  

Palestine map
State of Palestine Map

Since the official Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the world has been divided in officially recognizing it as a nation. Out of the 193 United Nations member states, 138 countries officially recognize the State of Palestine.

On the map below, countries that recognize Palestine can be seen in green. Most countries in the regions of Asia, Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East officially recognize the State of Palestine, while most countries in North America and Western Europe do not.

Countries recognizing palestine
Countries that recognize Palestine

Before taking a closer look at how international recognition of Palestine has changed over time and some of the reasons countries decide to recognize it or not, we’ll learn about the history of Palestine and its journey to globally recognized statehood.  

A Short History of Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Palestine Region

Before it had a national identity, the area of modern-day Palestine was part of the larger Region of Palestine, whose name is related to the Land of the Philistines, which comes from the Ancient Greek word Philistia, referring to the lands between modern-day Gaza and Tel Aviv.

The Region of Palestine has a tumultuous history as the birthplace of Christianity and Judaism as well as a crossroads of culture, trade, commerce, and politics. Over the centuries, the region was controlled by various empires; namely, the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Neo-Babylonian Empire, Achaemenid Persian Empire, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, and various caliphates before having a predominantly Muslim population and becoming part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.

Mandatory Palestine

During World War I, the Arab population of the Ottoman Empire was encouraged by the United Kingdom to rebel against the ruling Turks. In exchange for this rebellion, the British Government had agreed, by way of the McMahon—Hussein Correspondence, to support the formation of an independent Arab State.

Despite its agreement to support the formation of an independent Arab State, the British Government also engaged in a covert treaty at this time known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This agreement between the UK and France established guidelines for how the nations would divide the Arab-majority territories in a partition of the Ottoman Empire.

The result of the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the partition of the Ottoman Empire was the establishment of League of Nations mandates controlled by the British and French. Among these was the British-administered Mandate for Palestine.

In addition to gaining control of Mandatory Palestine, Britain had issued a public statement called the Balfour Declaration announcing its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People.

A copy of the Balfour Declaration, signed by Arthur Balfour.
Balfour Declaration signed by Arthur Balfour

This was in line with the goals of the Zionist Movement, which was growing in response to antisemitism in Europe. Part of Britain’s motivation for announcing its support of this plan was to garner the support of Jewish people in the war. The land of Mandatory Palestine includes the historic homelands of the Jewish people, making it an ideal location in the eyes of Zionists.

Britain’s Balfour Declaration would pave the way for the formation of the State of Israel and be considered partly responsible for the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.

Over the next three decades after the establishment of Mandatory Palestine, tensions grew between the local Arab population and the increasing numbers of Jewish refugees. There were also violent uprisings by the Arab and Jewish populations against the British authorities in Palestine during this time.

Eventually, the UK made the decision to withdraw from Palestine and hand the resolution of the “Question of Palestine” over to the United Nations, which proposed a partition plan that would create a Palestinian State as well as an Israeli State. This was known as the “Two-State Solution,” though it was never successfully implemented.

Several successive violent clashes, including the 1947-1949 Palestine War and the Six-Day War of 1967 led to an expansion of Israeli territory and deepened the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The conflict has displaced millions of Palestinian refugees around the world.  

The Palestinian Declaration of Independence, announced in 1988, was met with mixed reactions from the international community.

The United Nations and Palestine

In 1975, the UN created the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), to protect the rights of the Palestinian people.

In pursuit of international recognition, sovereignty, and diplomatic relations, the State of Palestine has sought membership in the UN since declaring independence. This has been repeatedly opposed by Israel, the United States, and several other countries.

While Palestine has still not acquired full membership in the UN, it did gain non-Member Observer State status in the 2012 General Assembly. This achievement significantly enhanced Palestine’s international standing and has allowed it to participate in various UN activities and agencies, opening avenues for legal recourse through international institutions.

The vote to grant Palestine this status received overwhelming support; countries that voted against the move included the US, Israel, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, Nauru, Palau, and Micronesia.

President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas made another appeal for full UN membership in 2022.

Countries That Recognize Palestine

As of 2022, there are 138 UN member states that officially recognized the State of Palestine, as listed in the table below.

Countries That Recognize PalestineDate of Recognition
Afghanistan1988
Albania1988
Algeria1988
Angola1988
Antigua and Barbuda2011
Argentina2010
Azerbaijan1992
Bahrain1988
Bangladesh1988
Belarus1988
Belize2011
Benin1989
Bhutan1988
Bolivia2010
Bosnia and Herzegovina1992
Botswana1988
Brazil2011
Brunei1988
Bulgaria1988
Burkina Faso1988
Burundi1988
Cambodia1988
Cape Verde1988
Central African Republic1988
Chad1988
Chile2011
China1988
Colombia2018
Comoros1988
Costa Rica2008
Cuba1988
Cyprus1988
Czech Republic1988
Djibouti1988
Dominica2011
Dominican Republic2009
DR Congo1988
Ecuador2010
Egypt1988
El Salvador2011
Equatorial Guinea1989
Eswatini1991
Ethiopia1989
Gabon1988
Gambia1988
Georgia1992
Ghana1988
Grenada2011
Guatemala2013
Guinea1988
Guinea-Bissau1988
Guyana2011
Haiti2013
Honduras2011
Hungary1988
Iceland2011
India1988
Indonesia1988
Iran1988
Iraq1988
Ivory Coast1988
Jordan1988
Kazakhstan1992
Kenya1989
Kuwait1988
Kyrgyzstan1995
Laos1988
Lebanon2008
Lesotho2011
Liberia2011
Libya1988
Madagascar1988
Malawi1998
Malaysia1988
Maldives1988
Mali1988
Malta1988
Mauritania1988
Mauritius1988
Mongolia1988
Montenegro2006
Morocco1988
Mozambique1988
Namibia1988
Nepal1988
Nicaragua1988
Niger1988
Nigeria1988
North Korea1988
Oman1988
Pakistan1988
Papua New Guinea1995
Paraguay2011
Peru2011
Philippines1989
Poland1988
Qatar1988
Republic of the Congo1988
Romania1988
Russia1988
Rwanda1989
Saint Kitts and Nevis2019
Saint Lucia2015
Sao Tome and Principe2011
Saudi Arabia1988
Senegal1988
Serbia1988
Seychelles1988
Sierra Leone1988
Slovakia1988
Somalia1988
South Africa1995
South Sudan2011
Sri Lanka1988
Sudan1988
Suriname2011
Sweden2014
Syria2011
Tajikistan1994
Tanzania1988
Thailand2012
Timor-Leste2004
Togo1988
Tunisia1988
Turkey1988
Turkmenistan1992
Uganda1988
Ukraine1988
United Arab Emirates1988
Uruguay2011
Uzbekistan1994
Vanuatu1989
Vatican City (UN obs. state)2015
Venezuela2009
Vietnam1988
Yemen1988
Zambia1988
Zimbabwe1988

Many of the countries not on this list state that they will abstain from recognizing Palestine until productive negotiations between Palestine and Israel take place. One of the motivations some countries have for not recognizing Palestine is strong diplomatic ties with either Israel or the US.

Countries That Do Not Recognize Palestine

In the table below, we’ll list the countries that do not currently recognize Palestine. Some of these countries have diplomatic relations with Palestine even though they do not officially recognize the nation.

Although these countries don’t officially recognize Palestine as an independent state, many of them support a two-state solution and have diplomatic relations with Palestine.

Countries That Do Not Recognize PalestineDiplomatic Relations With Palestine
AndorraNo
ArmeniaNo
AustraliaYes
AustriaYes
BarbadosNo
BelgiumYes
CameroonYes
CanadaYes
CroatiaYes
DenmarkYes
EritreaYes
EstoniaYes
FijiNo
FinlandYes
FranceYes
GermanyYes
GreeceYes
IcelandYes
IrelandYes
IsraelYes
ItalyYes
JamaicaNo
JapanYes
KiribatiNo
LatviaYes
LiechtensteinNo
LithuaniaYes
LuxembourgYes
Marshall IslandsNo
MexicoYes
MicronesiaNo
MoldovaYes
MonacoNo
MyanmarNo
NauruNo
NetherlandsYes
New ZealandYes
North MacedoniaNo
NorwayYes
PalauNo
PanamaNo
PortugalYes
SamoaNo
San MarinoNo
SingaporeNo
SloveniaYes
Solomon IslandsNo
South KoreaYes
SpainYes
SwitzerlandYes
The BahamasNo
TongaNo
Trinidad and TobagoNo
TuvaluNo
United KingdomYes
United States of AmericaYes

Recent Developments in Palestine

In the last decade, seven new countries have expressed recognition of Palestine: Guatemala, Grenada, Haiti, Sweden, Saint Lucia, Colombia, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.  

Guatemala

In April 2013, the President of Guatemala issued a statement that said the country recognized the State of Palestine as a “free, sovereign and independent state.” The motivation for the recognition was to make progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Guatemala does not have diplomatic relations with Palestine.

Guatemala and the State of Israel have had a strong diplomatic relationship for many years. Guatemala was the second country to recognize Israel after the US in 1948, and it opened an embassy in Jerusalem just two days after the controversial decision by the US to consider the city the capital of Israel.

Grenada and Haiti

After Guatemala, both Grenada and Haiti decided to officially recognize the State of Palestine in September 2013, the year after it became a non-Member Observer State in the UN. The Palestinian Foreign Minister signed agreements with both nations at a ceremony held at the UN headquarters in New York City. The agreement led to an exchange of ambassadors between the countries.

Sweden

In a move making it the first Western European EU member to do so, Sweden announced its decision to officially recognize the State of Palestine in 2014. Palestine opened an embassy in Stockholm the following year, and a plan was put in place to provide Palestine with financial aid from Sweden. This aid was suspended in 2023 after the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, pending further review at the end of the year.

Saint Lucia

The Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia joined more than 130 others in recognizing Palestine in 2015. The country issued a Statement on Diplomatic Relations with the State of Palestine at an official signing ceremony in New York City.

Colombia

Colombia was one of the last Latin American countries to recognize Palestine formally, doing so in 2018. The announcement was controversial, as it took place just weeks before a new Colombian government took office. Colombia’s President issued a statement in October 2023 concerning the occupation of Palestinian territory.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

The most recent country to recognize Palestine is Saint Kitts and Nevis, a small island nation located in the Caribbean. The country stated in 2019 that it “formally recognizes the State of Palestine as a free, independent and sovereign state based on its 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital.” It also supports a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel.

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