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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

It is indeed, but who can doubt that the Palestinians think like that when they are subject to the arbitrary use of extreme violence against civilians, not just yearly, but often on a weekly basis.

The second voice I have heard against this motion comes from people who say they agree with it but place every obstacle in its way. I also heard that in the speech from the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington, when he talked about the Palestinians not yet being ready to have their own state. If that were true—I do not believe it is—it would be a direct result of Israeli policy. Just after Operation Cast Lead, I stood in Gaza in the ruins of the Palestinian Parliament, which was deliberately bombed. Every organ of civil society, of the economy and of democracy in that country had been systematically destroyed by the Israelis, and they have just done it again. Every concession given by the Palestinians is taken and then more concessions are demanded, and the remorseless colonisation continues. How long is this going to continue?

The motion is a positive step, but my constituents wish to see more. They would like us to stop supplying arms to the Israelis when those arms are being used for the occupation and to kill people in Gaza. They would like us to stop importing goods from illegal settlements—illegal under international law. They cannot understand why, if the settlements are illegal, the goods should not be illegal as well. The motion does not ask for any of that. It was supposed to be consensual motion that simply proposes giving the same rights to the Palestinians as we extend to the Israelis. This is about equity.

Finally, this country has a special duty here. It is easy to try to duck that duty. We are the authors of the Balfour declaration and we were the occupying power. Anybody who goes to the middle east knows—I am sure that the Minister would agree with me on this—that the views taken by the British Government and the British people run powerfully in the region. We should set an example. Yes, 135 countries have recognised Palestine and yes, we are behind the curve in this matter, but it is not too late for us to set an example to Europe and the rest of the world and show that we believe in equality and fairness in international statecraft as much as we believe in our own country. That is all that this motion is asking for tonight. It is not asking for special privilege or treatment. It is not a provocative act. It is simply saying: lay the basis for peace and equality in the middle east and resolve this issue and much else will follow.