I have been raising the issue of Palestine for a number of years, and I find it heart-breaking that after decades of violence, illegal occupation, demolition of Palestinian homes and complete disregard for their lives, we are still debating the very basics.
Tensions between Israel and Palestine reached new heights this year, when shocking scenes during the holy month of Ramadan, saw far-right Israeli groups chanting “death to Arabs”, the storming of the holy al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli security forces and the bombing of a media building in Gaza, which led to 12 days of violence, resulting in destruction, unnecessary deaths and causalities. A ceasefire came into effect on the 21st May, but the damage had been done.
Now with a new Israeli Government, the hope for change has quickly vanished, as forced evictions, annexation and human rights abuses continue to take place.
The international community, including the UK must double down its efforts to hold the Israeli government to account and help move towards a peace process which respects and demands human rights, equality, international law, accountability, and the recognition of Palestine.
The UK Government has a policy of a two-state solution, but paradoxically is yet to even recognise the state of Palestine. Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 138 have recognised the State of Palestine. But the UK is not one of them. I recently received a response from Minister James Cleverly, when pressing him on this issue, and he outlined “that the UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace”.
If we truly believe that the time is not now, which is frankly already too late, then we need to deeply rethink our religious, moral and political philosophies.
I invited the Minister to attend today’s important webinar, sadly I didn’t receive a response.
The Question of Palestine opens the debate over international law, self-determination, human rights and the role of the international community in brokering peace.
Today we have an excellent line up of speakers who will be providing an insight into the current situation in Palestine and I urge speakers to think about tangible ways we can move towards a meaningful peace process and indeed whether you even think a two-state solution is possible?
I want to thank our brilliant speakers for sharing their insights and I hope this will encourage everyone to address the issue of Palestine with a new determination.
Speakers highlighted the many challenges that face Palestine and drew attention to Israel’s de facto annexation of large parts of the West Bank which are illegal under international law. It is important that the UK Government uses its permanent position on the UN Security Council and historic role in Israeli-Palestinian affairs to turn statements into diplomatic interventions.
With a new Israeli Government it is important that we on the opposition benches robustly oppose the continued land, sea and air blockade of Gaza and we must encourage the Government to make representations to Israeli officials and ask them to lift the blockade.
The ongoing human rights abuses are a scar on the world’s conscience, and we must highlight the plight of Palestinians and fight for the Palestinian cause.
I can reaffirm my commitment as an MP that I will continue to raise this matter and ensure that Palestinian voices are being heard.
You can watch the full webinar here.