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Backbench Business — Palestine and Israel

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 13th October 2014.

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Photo of Richard Ottaway Richard Ottaway Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 6:12 pm, 13th October 2014

If the rest of the debate follows the tone of the three speeches that we have heard so far, it will be a memorable debate. The next few minutes will be personally rather painful for me. It was inevitable right since the time of the holocaust that Israel clearly had to be a state in its own right, and Attlee accepted the inevitable and relinquished the British mandate. In November 1947, the United Nations supported the partition resolution. What was on the table then was a settlement that the Arabs would die for today. In May 1948, Israel became an independent state and came under attack from all sides within hours. In truth, it has been fighting for its existence ever since.

I was a friend of Israel long before I became a Tory. My wife’s family were instrumental in the creation of the Jewish state. Indeed, some of them were with Weizmann at the Paris conference. The holocaust had a deep impact on me as a young man growing up in the aftermath of the second world war, particularly when I paid a visit as a schoolboy to Belsen.