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Backbench Business — Palestine and Israel

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 8:23 pm on 13th October 2014.

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Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Minister (Justice) 8:23 pm, 13th October 2014

I congratulate all those who have made the case for the recognition of Palestine this evening, particularly my fellow officers in the Britain-Palestine all-party group and in Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East, including the mover of the motion, my hon. Friend Grahame M. Morris, and my hon. Friend Richard Burden, who has campaigned on this issue for decades rather than years. We have heard good speeches from Members on both sides of the House, particularly the right hon. Members for Rutland and Melton (Sir Alan Duncan) and for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames).

This is not just a debate within this House: tens of thousands of people marched against the invasion of Gaza; we have seen mobilisations through the trade union movement and through the Palestine solidarity campaign; and we have heard that distinguished diplomats —Sir Vincent Fean, our most recent consul in Jerusalem has been mentioned—have written powerfully in this cause recently. Let us not forget the Jewish and Israeli groups, particularly the Israeli civil society groups such as Breaking the Silence, Peace Now and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which, under a great deal of pressure from their Government now, continue to campaign. But above all it is the British people who have taken up this cause, with more than 50,000 e-mails sent to MPs over the past two or three weeks.

I think that the British people have been on the same sort of the journey as Sir Richard Ottaway described—it is certainly true of the Labour movement—from being very sympathetic to Israel as a country that was trying to achieve democracy and was embattled, to seeing it now as a bully and a regional superpower. That is not something I say with any pleasure, but since the triumph of military Zionism and the Likud-run Governments we have seen a new barbarism in that country. We have seen it in the Lebanon invasion, in the attack on the Mavi Marmara and the flotilla, and, above all, in the three attacks on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, Operation Cast Lead—