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A Symbolic Vote in Britain Recognizes a Palestinian State

 
 
Reply Tue 14 Oct, 2014 02:59 am
A Symbolic Vote in Britain Recognizes a Palestinian State
By STEPHEN CASTLE and JODI RUDORENOCT. 13, 2014

LONDON — Against a backdrop of growing impatience across Europe with Israeli policy, Britain’s Parliament overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution Monday night to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state. The vote was a symbolic but potent indication of how public opinion has shifted since the breakdown of American-sponsored peace negotiations and the conflict in Gaza this summer.

Though the outcome of the 274-to-12 parliamentary vote was not binding on the British government, the debate was the latest evidence of how support for Israeli policies, even among staunch allies of Israel, is giving way to more calibrated positions and in some cases frustrated expressions of opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance toward the Palestinians.

Opening the debate, Grahame Morris, the Labour Party lawmaker who promoted it, said Britain had a “historic opportunity” to take “this small but symbolically important step” of recognition.

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“To make our recognition of Palestine dependent on Israel’s agreement would be to grant Israel a veto over Palestinian self-determination,” said Mr. Morris, who leads a group called Labour Friends of Palestine.

Richard Ottaway, a Conservative lawmaker and chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, said that he had “stood by Israel through thick and thin, through the good years and the bad,” but now realized “in truth, looking back over the past 20 years, that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.”

“Under normal circumstances,” he said, “I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”

The breakdown of negotiations over a two-state solution, continued Israeli settlement building and the bloody conflict in Gaza all appear to have jolted Europe’s politicians, including Sweden’s new prime minister, Stefan Lofven, who this month pledged to recognize Palestine, the first time a major Western European nation had done so.

The conflict in Gaza also gave new impetus to efforts to pressure Israel through a campaign to boycott some goods made in West Bank settlements. And it helped fuel a surge in anti-Semitic episodes across Europe this year amid concerns that opposition to Israeli policies was allowing anti-Jewish bias to take root in the European mainstream.

Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said that moves like the British resolution and Sweden’s recent statement “make conflict resolution much more difficult” by sending Palestinians the message that “they can achieve things” outside negotiations. Israel, the United States and most of Europe have long insisted that the only path to Palestinian statehood is through bilateral negotiations.

Mr. Hirschson said “there’s no legal weight behind” the British resolution and that it “contravenes the policy of all three” British political parties, including Labour, but acknowledged that it “sours” relations with a longtime and staunch ally.

“I don’t know how much of it is about Britain-Israel relations, or various different Israel-Europe relations, and how much of it is about Britain-Arab relations,” Mr. Hirschson said in a telephone interview. “Europe is in a way playing to the Arab world. Europe is in terrible economic condition, and they have to trade with the Arab world.”

Prime Minister David Cameron’s government opposes recognizing a Palestinian state at this point, and the parliamentary debate and vote are not likely to change British policy. But the issue is being debated in a growing number of capitals.

Romain Nadal, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Monday that France “will have to recognize Palestine,” but he did not specify when the official recognition would take place.

The last conflict in Gaza “has been a triggering factor,” Mr. Nadal said. “It made us realize that we had to change methods.”

The European Union recently condemned Israel’s decision to expand settlements and on Sunday the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, pledged 450 million euros, or about $568 million, for the reconstruction of Gaza. The European Union has spent more than €1.3 billion in the Gaza Strip in the last decade.

Britain’s parliamentary debate comes amid pressure for a boycott of goods from Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank. One Labour Party lawmaker, Shabana Mahmood, recently joined protesters in lying down outside a supermarket in Birmingham selling such goods, forcing it to close temporarily.

“The problem is that we are drastically losing public opinion,” Avi Primor, the director of European studies at Tel Aviv University and a former Israeli ambassador to the European Union, told Israel Radio on Monday. “This has been going on for many years, and became particularly serious after the talks failed between us and the Palestinians after nine months of negotiations under Kerry, and even more so after Operation Protective Edge.”

That referred to failed efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to revive the peace process and Israel’s military operations in Gaza in the summer.

If Sweden does recognize Palestine — and there is no timetable as yet — it will become the first big nation in the European Union to do so, although some East European countries did so during the Cold War, before they joined the union.

In 2011 a motion calling for recognition of Palestine won the support of Spanish lawmakers, though the government has not followed through on that vote.

In that same year the “State of Palestine” applied to become a member of the United Nations and, although that effort failed, in 2012 it successfully obtained the lesser status of nonmember observer state. The Palestinians leveraged their new status in April to join 15 international treaties and conventions, which helped bring about the breakdown of the latest round of peace talks.

Separately, 134 of 193 United Nations member states have extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine.

In Britain, where elections loom next year, Israel’s policies have become politically sensitive. In 2011, Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, laid down official policy saying that Britain reserved the right “to recognize a Palestinian state at a moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace.”

But over the summer, the leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Ed Miliband, said that Mr. Cameron was “wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza” and rebuked him for his “silence on the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians caused by Israel’s military action.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/14/world/europe/british-parliament-palestinian-state.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpSum&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Stephen Castle reported from London, and Jodi Rudoren from Jerusalem. Maïa de la Baume contributed reporting from Paris.
 
jft2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2015 11:09 am
@Moment-in-Time,
A long time coming!
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2015 11:23 am
@jft2,
jft2 wrote:
A long time coming!

A Palestinian state created unilaterally, instead of through negotiations with Israel, will be composed only of isolated Bantustans as Israel will get to keep all of Area C.

A fitting outcome. Exactly what the Palestinians deserve.
izzythepush
 
  0  
Reply Thu 22 Jan, 2015 04:33 pm
The real story is what this vote means a future Labour government will do. Ed Milliband, the Labour leader, is the son of Jewish immigrants who fled the Nazis. And only a Jewish prime minister or president can really stand up to Israel.
0 Replies
 
jft2
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2015 10:58 am
@oralloy,
Palestine was created at the same time as Israel and doesn't need acceptance by Israel to exist.
Resolution 181 created both states at the same time with common borders and that UN resolution has been decreed by the ICJ as legal.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2015 11:24 am
@jft2,
Oralboy supports Israel because they kill a lot of Palestinian children, killing children is something he fantasises about all the time. That and sucking up to Holocaust deniers.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2015 02:35 pm
@jft2,
Most Jews I know are decent people who understands what's right and wrong, and understand international laws about property ownership.
It boggles my mind that so many turn a blind eye to how they would react under similar circumstances.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2015 06:23 pm
@jft2,
jft2 wrote:
Palestine was created at the same time as Israel and doesn't need acceptance by Israel to exist.

Then there is no need for anything else, and the Palestinians can get on with living in their Bantustans.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 12:39 am
@oralloy,
oralloy wrote:
the Palestinians can get on with living in their Bantustans.
You think that they belong to the old Persian Persian culture? And speak a Bantu language? Shocked
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 01:44 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:
You think that they belong to the old Persian Persian culture? And speak a Bantu language? Shocked

No.

"Bantustan" means a tiny non-independent but autonomous country that is entirely surrounded by a more powerful state.

The Palestinians have often in the past lied and claimed that Israel was offering them only Bantustans, when Israel was really offering them 1967 borders.

However, in what is turning out to be an absolutely wonderful irony, Palestinian aggression is leading to the creation of a Palestinian state that is composed only of what land the Palestinians currently control. And currently the Palestinians only control small isolated pockets of land.

In theory, negotiations will still be possible to expand Palestinian land to 1967 borders, and the US will certainly still continue to promote peaceful negotiations for such an outcome.

But in practice, all these unilateral acts by the Palestinians are ruining any possibility of negotiations, which means that in the end the Palestinians will get only what they already have, and not a bit more.

Which is exactly what they deserve to get.
Walter Hinteler
 
  4  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 01:49 am
@oralloy,
oralloy wrote:
"Bantustan" means a tiny non-independent but autonomous country that is entirely surrounded by a more powerful state.
Wrong!
The suffix "-stan" means homeland, place, place of in Persian. It's used in all those parts of the world, which were heavily influenced by the ancient Persian culture.
The prefix "Bantu-" refers to any people who spek one of the many Bantu-language.

But it's okay, since you always make your own rules and laws.
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 02:02 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:
oralloy wrote:
"Bantustan" means a tiny non-independent but autonomous country that is entirely surrounded by a more powerful state.

Wrong!
The suffix "-stan" means homeland, place, place of in Persian. It's used in all those parts of the world, which were heavily influenced by the ancient Persian culture.
The prefix "Bantu-" refers to any people who spek one of the many Bantu-language.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bantustan

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Bantustan%20Palestinian


Walter Hinteler wrote:
But it's okay, since you always make your own rules and laws.

I do no such thing.
Walter Hinteler
 
  3  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 02:15 am
@oralloy,
From your above quote:
Quote:
The term was first used in the late 1940s and was coined from Bantu (meaning "people" in some of the Bantu languages) and -stan (a suffix meaning "land" in the Persian language. ... It was regarded as a disparaging term by some critics of the apartheid-era government's "homelands" (from Afrikaans tuisland).
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 02:25 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:
From your above quote:
Quote:
The term was first used in the late 1940s and was coined from Bantu (meaning "people" in some of the Bantu languages) and -stan (a suffix meaning "land" in the Persian language. ... It was regarded as a disparaging term by some critics of the apartheid-era government's "homelands" (from Afrikaans tuisland).

It is a wonderful irony that the Palestinians are taking a situation where they were being offered 1967 borders in peace, and through their aggression creating a situation where the only thing they will end up with are a few isolated Bantustans.
0 Replies
 
jft2
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 03:10 pm
@oralloy,
The only need is for Israel to recognize Palestine as its legal neighbor rand the borders set in Resolution 181.
Then they can negotiate on the important issues such as non-aggression, water allocation, right-of-return and withdrawal of Israeli forces from land that does not belong to Israel.

The maps of aggression against Palestine and theft of their lands, is clearly shown on these maps;
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=gaza+maps+1947&qpvt=gaza+maps+1947&FORM=IGRE&id=792CED1399D01DDD4EE989081236FE4DBD03E4F1&selectedIndex=0#view=detail&id=792CED1399D01DDD4EE989081236FE4DBD03E4F1&selectedIndex=0
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 03:30 pm
@jft2,
Withdrawal from Palestanian land is the elephant in the room.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 03:35 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Not much chance of that when they're expanding settlement activity.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2015 03:36 pm
@jft2,
jft2 wrote:
The only need is for Israel to recognize Palestine as its legal neighbor and the borders set in Resolution 181.

The United States will protect Israel from any effort to force them to do this outside the negotiation process.

If it happens within the negotiation process, the borders will be 1967 in nature, rather than what was proposed in Resolution 181, and the Palestinians will be required to make peace with Israel in return for getting these borders.


jft2 wrote:
Then they can negotiate on the important issues such as non-aggression, water allocation, right-of-return and withdrawal of Israeli forces from land that does not belong to Israel.

Then? As in after?

If negotiations are going to wait until after events that are never going to happen, the Palestinians might as well get settled into their nice cozy Bantustans, because that will mean that Israel will be allowed to keep full military control over all of Area C.
0 Replies
 
 

 
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