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It’s time for the UK to recognise the state of Palestine

3 min read

Not recognising Palestine undermines the UK’s position of working towards a two-state solution which ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, writes Layla Moran

Next week my Private Member’s Bill to recognise the state of Palestine has its second reading. I have laid bills before, but this is one of the most personal and poignant. I am the first MP of Palestinian descent and have been in Parliament during a time of extreme violence and hardship in the region.

Just a few months ago, following the anniversary of the Nakba, horrific images of the dead or injured Palestinian men, women and children were everywhere. The violence was unjustifiable and unacceptable. My heart broke for Palestine and Palestinians. I have family there, it’s part of who I am.

Trump’s inflammatory decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem in the same period added to the acute feelings of injustice. His decision and rhetoric served as a catalyst for the violence and to demonstrate his disregard for the peace process, the two-state solution, and Palestine.

Watching from my still new position on the green benches I felt, and still feel, a responsibility to do all I can to help restore hope to Palestinians. I now walk through the halls of the place that implemented the Balfour declaration all those years ago and I believe that Britain has an obligation under that declaration. We have a historic responsibility to speak up. Peace can only be attained through a two-state solution but for as long as those two states are not equal it is unreasonable to put the responsibility of peace talks solely on their shoulders.

Trump moving the embassy to Jerusalem was another stark reminder of the inequality between Israel and Palestine. It was also a reminder that the UK can and must use its voice, through the Security Council and all other platforms, to contribute towards a resumption of peace negotiations based on a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital. Not only do we have a responsibility to do so through our role in the Balfour declaration, but it is also the right thing to do.

As things stand now the peace process is nowhere to be found. It is a fallacy to think that there is still an ongoing peace process and the international community are ignorant if they think anything else. The political agenda has been hijacked by extremists on both sides and I am very clear that as a part of that, Hamas must go: their presence is setting the dialogue back considerably.

With this breakdown of the peace process, and the US now missing from the international effort, it is more important than ever that the UK steps up and uses its influence and voice. The UK can help restore a sense of hope for Palestinians, we can help bring the parties back to the negotiating table, and we can help level the playing field. But we can only do that if we recognise the state of Palestine. Saying that we believe in a two-state solution without recognising one of those states ourselves would be laughably hypocritical if it weren’t so damaging.

Not recognising Palestine undermines the UK’s position of working towards a two-state solution which ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is time to right this wrong. That is what my Bill would do: it would pave the way for that overdue recognition. I am Palestinian, there is a Palestinian state, and it is time for the UK to recognise that. 

Layla Moran is Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon. The second reading of her PMB will take place on Friday 22 March.

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