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MPs to vote on Palestine statehood recognition

MPs to vote on Palestine statehood recognition

Categories: Latest News

Friday October 10 2014

The Independent front page today focuses on the backbench debate in Parliament on Monday debating a motion for unilateral recognition of the State of Palestine. The paper publishes a letter from retired diplomats, including two former Consul-Generals of Jerusalem, urging MPs to support the motion.

The motion for the debate, which has been tabled by Grahame Morris MP, states “That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”

The Independent draws attention to the split in the Labour Party over the vote with lobbying taking place in favour of an amendment to the motion which advances the favoured Israeli position, that statehood should only come after a negotiated agreement between both sides.

The amendment, which is being pushed by pro-Israeli MPs and groups in Parliament, fails to take into consideration the fact that conditioning statehood recognition for Palestine on a negotiated agreement has only strengthened Israeli stonewalling in negotiations.

Guto Bebb MP, who has tabled the amendment to the motion by inserting the condition that statehood recognition should come “on the conclusion of successful peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority”, told the paper that the motion was in contradiction to the UK’s policy on the matter. He added:

“How can you recognise a state when the borders of that state have not been agreed?”

It may come as a surprise to Bebb, but the UK recognised Israel despite its borders not being agreed and so to advance agreed borders as a reason not to recognise Palestine would be hypocritical in the extreme. The fact is that Palestine’s borders will likely become increasingly meaningless as time goes on, given the relentless expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. Holding out on recognition now will make the issue of borders a moot point in the future by allowing Israel to continue with its violations of international law and its encroachment of internationally agreed Palestinian borders on the pre-1967 lines.

As the Independent editorial puts it, “Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, brazenly proceeds with new Israeli settlements on land that should belong to Palestine. So much for Israel’s enthusiasm for a two state solution.”

The US Secretary of State’s failed endeavours in the peace process were captured in his remarks earlier this year about Israel descending into an ‘apartheid state’ after the last thrust by the US administration to reignite negotiations failed.

The war in Gaza this summer is a potent reminder of the huge civilian cost of dragging our feet on the Middle East conflict by talking about a ‘peace process’ and ‘negotiations’ while resolving nothing on the ground.

In a letter to the Independent, the groups of diplomats urge that “This is a rare opportunity for MPs to assist the Government to take a historic decision by conveying the feeling of the country on a non-party issue.”

Sir Vincent Fean, former UK Consul-General in Jerusalem, adds his voice to the impending vote on Monday in a op-ed piece in the Guardian today urging support for statehood recognition in order to ‘level the ground’ for essential talks to take place between the two sides in peace negotiations.

Fean recalls recent Israeli expansionist activities and the failure of peace negotiations to stem the erosion of Palestinian territory saying ” illegal settler enterprise brought more than 600,000 Israelis into East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“We have deplored frequently, to no avail. What to do?”

To do something is urgently and as Fean explains, “The Commons debate matters. The motion, by Labour MP Grahame Morris, is to recognise Palestine. That is right, and timely. An amendment tabled by both the main parties’ Friends of Israel groups would make UK recognition contingent on successful peace talks. This is well-intentioned, but mistaken. Adopting that amendment would give Israel a veto over our policy decision to recognise another state. That is wrong in principle and practice. It’s our call, not Israel’s.”

Columnists Peter Oborne and Donald Macintyre in the Daily Telegraph and Independent respectively add their voices to calls for recognition with Macintyre arguing the move, though symbolic, would send a powerful message to Palestinians and Israelis at this critical juncture. And Oborne while asserting the important morale boost recognition would bring to “those Palestinians who continue to argue for peaceful negotiation rather than resort to arms” raises the significance of recognition in righting past and present wrongs committed against the Palestinians. He writes, “The Israelis…fear that a Palestinian state would swiftly gain membership of the International Criminal Court, meaning Israeli soldiers would be open to prosecution for war crimes.”

If you have not done so already, please write or visit your MP and urge him/her to support the motion calling for the UK to recognise the State of Palestine. Further details here.


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