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I congratulate Grahame M. Morris on securing this debate on a matter that is important to many people throughout the UK, Wales and Arfon. My local authority, Gwynedd, has taken a lead in condemning the Israeli Government for the indiscriminate violence used in the recent attacks in Gaza and will not invest in or trade with Israel. Gwynedd sees this debate, and our vote, as a key measure of our concern for Palestine, and of progress on the peace process and on a two-state settlement. That process is vital for both Palestine and Israel alike. People in Palestine who long for progress and peace, and many Israelis, will take encouragement from a positive vote here tonight. For we can vote for politics, for discussions between equals and for an end to war, or we can stall, find excuses and point to the latest outrage. That will help and encourage nobody, other than those who choose the gun, the rocket, the air strikes and the blockade.
Our Government can decide to recognise Palestine. We make our own policy and we are subject to no outside veto. We can recognise Palestine, we can judge that the time is right, and we have a responsibility to seize the opportunity and to wield our influence as a permanent member of the Security Council, as a member of the Quartet, and as the imperial power historically responsible for the mandate. Others today have discussed the history of this question but I will not. I will just say that throughout my adult life there has been war between Israel and its neighbours. We have seen constant invasion, the expropriation of territory by the supporters of war in Israel and, to be clear, repetitive retaliation and a determined cry from the war party, “Not now, not just yet, not until they have stopped it.” That “it” could be bus bombings, hijackings or rockets, but whatever it is at the time we have seen constant blocking and constant concentration on the latest outrage. Those Israelis and Jewish people across the world who work for peace, reconciliation and a just settlement have been sidelined, ignored and worse. Recognition of Palestine by the UK would call time on this constant conflict.
I have heard arguments that the vote tonight will change nothing. We have seen such arguments in an article in The Daily Telegraph today by my close neighbour, who is unaccountably not in his place, Guto Bebb. He says that the vote is
“non-binding and has no implications for British foreign policy.”
Paradoxically, he says that it will damage decades of hard work towards peace. He says that
“international opinion won’t be swayed by a few squabbling MPs on Britain’s Opposition benches” but also that the motion
“damages Britain’s role in the Middle East”.
With such confusion and contradiction coming from one opponent—