Lebanese woman attacked by bodyguards after humiliating lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public
LONDON: British MPs debated on Monday the implementation of two petitions calling for economic sanctions against Israel and recognition by the British government of the State of Palestine.
The petitions have garnered over 100,000 signatures each, which under UK law means they must be considered for debate in Parliament.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle urged the government to push forward the two-state solution by recognizing the state of Palestine, but the majority of MPs who took part in the debate rejected the idea of sanctions against Israel.
Chairing the debate, Katherine McKinnell of Labor said: “I share deep-seated concerns for the plight of the Palestinian people. Colleagues who have visited the region will know that the Palestinians’ desire to live in dignity and peace in a state of their own is undeniable.
“Their aspiration for self-determination is an aspiration that we must support wholeheartedly. It’s good for the Palestinian people, and it’s good for the Israeli people.
She added: “However, I do not believe that sweeping sanctions of the type proposed by the second petition would bring the prospect of a two-state solution closer.”
The petition, which currently has more than 386,000 signatures, said: “The government should introduce sanctions against Israel, including blocking all trade, and in particular arms.
He added that the “disproportionate treatment of Palestinians and settlements which are considered by the international community as illegal is an affront to civilized society”.
James Cleverly, UK Minister for Middle East and North Africa, reiterated the government’s position on economic sanctions against Israel, saying: “Although we do not hesitate to express our disagreement with Israel whenever we deem it necessary, we are strongly opposed to boycotts or sanctions against Israel.
Cleverly also rejected the request for the second petition – that Britain immediately recognize a sovereign Palestinian state.
“There have, of course, been many calls over the years for the recognition of the Palestinian state,” he said.
“The British government’s position is clear: the UK will recognize a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the goal of peace. Bilateral recognition in itself cannot and will not end the occupation, ”he added.
“The British government continues to believe that without a negotiated peace deal, the occupation and the problems that accompany it will continue.”
Cleverly, however, criticized Israel’s continued assaults on Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.
“The UK position on evictions, demolitions and settlements is long standing, public, and has been communicated directly to the Israeli government. That is to say: we oppose these actions, ”he said.
Steve Baker, a Conservative MP, said he made a “mistake” in deprioritizing the Israeli-Palestinian issue during a period of relative calm.
“The problem, of course, is that the conflict has not gone away and has since returned with ferocity,” he added.
Baker urged the government to actively seek a two-state solution, a policy he and other lawmakers say has been approved by the government but never actively pursued.
“I voted for the recognition of the State of Palestine,” he said. “I think if we’re serious about a two-state solution, it’s important that this Parliament and parliaments elsewhere, governments for that matter, recognize the State of Palestine.
Naz Shah of Labor said she had a message for new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: “Those who support you in the Knesset (Parliament), the background music is changing, the world is becoming aware of Israel’s actions, and all those who want to see lasting peace in the region, know that in order to achieve such peace, we must end the occupation, injustice and oppression. It begins with the recognition of a viable Palestinian state.
She warned Bennett: “We will not remain silent in pushing Israel to be tried by the International Criminal Court for war crimes if more Palestinian blood is unjustly spilled under a perverse interpretation of a right to self-defense.