Posted 14 Oct 2014 by Walaa Idris
It was truly heartening to listen to MP after MP from every political hue, on both sides of the house defend Palestinians’ right to statehood – and it’s about time too.
I always believed Israel was its own worst enemy. And never doubted that sooner or late it was going to overdo the “we’re protecting and defending ourselves” reasoning and it was all going to backfire. And it did. This summer for the first time I watched as commentator after commentator, politician after politician and nations after nation stand up for Palestinians while condemn Israel for overzealously bombing and slaughtering innocent men, women and children in the Gaza strip.
For years, most of the west watched quietly while Israel inch by inch, illegally took land that doesn’t belong to it. Wrongly built settlements they had no right to build. Subjugate the very people they have a duty of care towards. All under the banner of ‘it’s protecting its land’. Not the land it was given by the United Nation and Britain but the land it grabbed afterwards.
It is wrong, unjust and inhumane.
Last night British MPs overwhelmingly by a majority of 262 voted 274 to 12 to recognise the state of Palatine. And although that has no practical impact on British government policy and ministers, it still sends a positive signal to Palestinians. It tells them the British people support them and their right for statehood. It shows them Britons feel their struggle, understand their pain and respect their rights. All are positives with optimistic ramifications across the region.
The vote also forces the British government to act in the matter while at the same time nudges the US and other influencing nations to consider doing the same. Never underestimate the power of our Parliament and don’t for one second think the rest of the world wasn’t watching history being made yesterday, because it was.
But most of all, yesterday’s vote says to Israel enough is enough, while at the same time moves us closer to peace in the region.
Recognising the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel is the next step, and our government now has the public’s backing to move towards achieving that goal.
I cannot end this blogpost without mentioning Richard Ottaway’s contribution, even though his was not the only heart moving insightful one but it summed beautifully what many friends of Israel feel and have been feeling for some time now.
The Rt Hon Sir Richard Ottaway is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Croydon South and the chairman of the foreign affairs select committee. He said the recent annexation of West Bank land by the Israeli government had angered him like nothing else in politics. Then added he has been a supporter of the state of Israel before he became a Tory and had close family connections with the generation that formed the Israeli state. He went on to explain that he had been a strong supporter of Israel in the six day war and subsequent conflicts because the Holocaust had a deep impact on him growing up in the wake of the Second World War.
He passionately told the house: “But looking back over the past 20 years, I realise now Israel has slowly been drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.”
I felt his disappointment and as a friend of Israel, I too share his dismay. Many like us feel the same and welcome last night’s vote as a positive step in the road to a two-state solution and give us hope of future peace in the region.