The attacks that took place during the holy month of Ramadan on worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound from 15th to 21st April are truly heart-breaking and troubling to see. Particularly as they took place on the holiest day of the week for Muslims.
The tensions have continued rising since similar attacks last year. Israelis and Palestinians throughout the holy month of Ramadan have seen worshippers at the Al-Aqsa compound being attacked. Over 150 worshippers were injured by the Israeli police including children, women, elderly, and journalists. The events of recent weeks are concerning and the loss of life amongst Palestinian civilians including so many children is worrying and must be condemned.
On 24th February 2022, the long overdue backbench debate of recognising the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel took place. I spoke about the importance of recognising Palestine. It is concerning that after the decades of violence we are still debating this matter. That’s why, last year I wrote to the Prime Minister over the attacks on Al-Aqsa, this can be viewed here. The UK must recognise the state of Palestine, suspend arms sales to Israel and work towards a two-state solution.
In October 2014, the House of Commons voted in favour of a two-state solution and recognising the state of Palestine, however the UK government has not recognised this statehood and even abstained in the UN General Assembly vote that granted Palestine non-member observer status. The inaction has cost lives and entrenched the de facto annexation of Palestinian land and send out a clear message that Palestine is not equal. Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 138 have recognised the state of Palestine and the UK is not one of them. The Governments response to a written question that I tables was that “the UK will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace”.
A two-state solution and equality cannot be discussed without talking about occupation, which is the root cause of the many issues. The settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal under international law, and such actions entrench division and make achieving peace harder. The heart-breaking scenes at the holy site of Al-Aqsa Mosque must be condemned by the Government and the continuing expansion of Israeli settlement on Palestinian land risks making the occupation irreversible.
The UK recognising the state of Palestine would be more than symbolic. It would be the first step to signifying the UK’s parity of esteem for two peoples: Israelis and Palestinians. If the UK Government continue this trajectory of inaction, there will not e a Palestine to recognise. I believe the only way to achieve a new momentum is to put both nations on an equal footing, so that negotiations between occupier and occupied can turn into talks between two neighbouring sovereign nations.
Last year, I attended and spoke at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally in Platt Fields Park, Manchester. It was incredible to see our great City expressing its solidarity with the people of Palestine. It has been concerning to learn that events in Israel and Palestine have caused a huge spike in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic hate crime here in the UK. We must not let events in the Middle East allow hate to grow in our country. Together with my good friend and colleague, Alex Sobel MP, we wrote an open letter in the Guardian outlining why we must stand together as communities for peace, justice and reconciliation in Israel and Palestine.
I am a firm supporter of Palestinian rights and an advocate for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. A secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state is, I believe, the only way to secure a meaningful and long-lasting peace.
As the Vice Chair of the APPG on Palestine, I promise that I will keep fighting for the Palestinians and ensure that their voice is heard.