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Backbench Business — Palestine and Israel

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 9:53 pm on 13th October 2014.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour, Ilford South 9:53 pm, 13th October 2014

A power struggle is going on not just in the whole Arab world but within Palestinian society, between those who believe in a democratic and secular way forward and those who believe in political Islam that will wipe out not just moderate, secular Arabs but the Christians and the other religious minorities in Palestine. This motion is about not just the question of recognition but what kind of Palestinian state will be created—whether it will be a state that is in the hands of Hamas or, even worse, al-Qaeda elements within Gaza. It is about whether we, at this time, as an international community, recognise the momentous challenges that are facing the whole region. It is not possible for us to go on as we have for the past 15 or 20 years. The programme “The Gatekeepers”, to which some Members have referred, was very clear. It talked about a series of missed opportunities, and only one Prime Minister who had the courage to take the necessary action, paying for it with his life. I am talking about Yitzhak Rabin. The fact is that the current Israeli Prime Minister and Israeli Government do not have that courage and are not doing that.

I speak as a long-standing friend of Israel. I have been denounced as some kind of Zionist child killer by certain people in e-mails and on Twitter. I was even attacked today when I said I was going to vote for the motion by somebody who thought, “No, he can’t possibly be.” The fact is that this is an historic moment because the Palestinian people need a way out of the despair they face. We as an international community—the United States must also heed this message—must help the moderate forces in Fatah by getting their strategy, which is to take the issue internationally, to provide the way forward. Otherwise, the people who believe in the rocket attacks, the suicide bombs, the destruction of civilian communities and the killing of children—not just Israeli children but their own children, who are used as human shields—will gain the ascendency.

This is not a position that Hamas wants brought to the UN, and Hamas opposed the previous attempts by the Palestinian Authority. The leader of my party was quite right when he said that Hamas is a vile terrorist organisation. We need to support Fatah and the democratic and secular voices in Palestinian society. This is the chance for us to do so and for that reason I will vote for the motion and support the amendment. I hope that all other friends of Israel in this country will understand that this is the right thing to do.