Why I will vote to recognise Palestine

House of CommonsOn 21 July, I wrote of the conflict over Gaza:

As we have recoiled from the violence committed by both sides, too little attention has been paid to the reality of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, their development over the years and their consequences for Palestinians. The progression of those settlements has left the Palestinian people in a state of despair. The election of Hamas appears to be one result. A hopeful future must be found instead.

As William Hague explained on 8 April 2014, the British Government’s position is that a two-state solution should be based on the 1967 borders of Israel. As he explained on 17 June, the UK’s long-standing position is that Israeli settlements on occupied land are illegal.

Given the expansion of Israel into the West Bank during years of talks, it is not surprising that local people view with anger and disgust the circumstances within which so much innocent blood is now being spilled.

An immediate ceasefire should be followed by sincere efforts to create a prosperous future for both the Israeli and Palestinian people through the establishment of a functioning Palestinian state. It is extremely difficult to see how any other solution will be peaceful and lasting.

In the intervening period, I have studied the Commons Library briefs, listened carefully to both Muslim and Jewish constituents and to a Palestinian Christian of my acquaintance. I have come to understand the situation and its history rather better.

Palestinian statehood is in line with principles of international law and UN resolutions. The Government supports the principle of Palestinian statehood and reserves the right to recognise Palestine when it can best bring about peace. Given all that I have read, it seems clear that if there is to be a lasting and just peace at all, Palestine must be recognised now and negotiations reinvigorated, before it becomes impossible to bring about a two state solution.

It is also clear to me that both international and domestic peace would be substantially endangered if a two-state solution became impossible. Too many people believe the West, and successive British governments specifically, have been complicit in the progressive expansion of Israel by conquest in the West Bank. Double standards have generated a furious anger which will only be alleviated by equal treatment.

It is time to show that Britain upholds the right of self-determination equally for all people and for both Israelis and Palestinians in particular. Recognition would be a peaceful political act based on universal principles which would make it clear that diplomacy and democracy can deliver a just peace and security for all. Israel is a legitimate state with a right to exist; it should be joined by Palestine.

I deplore hatred and violence of all kinds. Terrorism and political violence is unacceptable. That is why I want to see Palestinians treated with equal dignity under law in the interest of all the people of both Israel and Palestine. Peace must be built through a determined commitment to meaningful progress. There must be no return to violence if Palestine is recognised as a state: only civilised negotiations can deliver peace.

When on Monday the House of Commons votes on whether and when the Government should recognise Palestine, I will support immediate recognition.

I have been asked to comment on the details of the dismantling of settlements, the return of Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem and the prospect for a contiguous Palestinian state including Gaza. To do so would be both beyond my expertise and to trespass on negotiations between the relevant parties.



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Comments & Responses

2 Responses so far.

  1. Imam Sultan says:

    I believe that this matter should be addressed in the house of parliament so that Palestinions can have a free land of there own
    in which they can live peacefully like any other citizens, I think time has come when Israel should recognise them, this is the only way in
    Which there can be peace in that rigion.

  2. Hugh Ellis says:

    I believe in equal rights and responsibilities for all people based on the divine command to love one’s neighbour as one’s self.
    Recognising the need for Palestinian self determination within clear borders is a wise principle. As the poet Robert Frost put it, ‘Good fences make good neighbours. I do hope and pray that there is committed political will on both sides to make this happen.
    Thanks for all you’re doing, Steve. You remain in my prayers.