Alan Whitehead

Labour MP for Southampton Test

Recognising Palestine

Today I will be voting to urge the Government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. 


Bz1d0cTIMAIpByD.jpgThis motion reflects my support for the principle of recognition of Palestinian statehood and my view that such statehood is not a gift to be given but a right to be recognised. Therefore, I am glad that since 2011, Labour has supported Palestinian recognition at the United Nations.

I fully support two states living side by side in peace, and recognised by all of their neighbours and it is clear that the events of recent months only underline the dangers for both Palestinians and Israelis of a resumption of violence and bloodshed.

We should be clear that this conflict and an eventual two state settlement will only be resolved through negotiation. However, after decades of diplomatic failure there are those on all sides that today question whether a two-state solution is any longer possible.

That is why I believe that, amidst the undoubted despair and the disappointment, the international community must take concrete steps to strengthen moderate Palestinian opinion, encourage the Palestinians to advance along the path of politics and rekindle hopes that there is a credible route to a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel achieved by negotiations.

We must be clear that Palestinian recognition at the UN would be such a step. That is why Douglas Alexander, Shadow Foreign Secretary, called on the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in 2011 and in 2012 to commit Britain to supporting the Palestinians' bid for recognition at the UN, not a means of bypassing the need for talks, but as a bridge for restarting them. This would be based on a reality that Israel would no longer be able to claim that its actions were a matter of internal security but of an approach to an independent and recognised state.

There is a strong case for the recognition of a Palestinian state, and I believe that the British Government should be willing to support the recognition of Palestinian statehood. This is an integral part of working towards a two state solution. It is also vitally important that any change in the level of Palestinian recognition is followed by meaningful negotiations between Israel and Palestine.  

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