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Backbench Business — Palestine and Israel

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 8:05 pm on 13th October 2014.

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Photo of Julie Elliott Julie Elliott Shadow Minister (Energy and Climate Change) 8:05 pm, 13th October 2014

I am very glad that my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend Grahame M. Morris, secured this debate in Backbench Business Committee time, and I rise to speak in support of his motion and the manuscript amendment of my right hon. Friend Mr Straw.

This has been one of the most fascinating debates that I have had the privilege to witness in this House since becoming a Member. For me, the motion is very simple. There is no ambiguity: all sides want a two-state solution that works and is sustainable. That can only be reached by negotiation—by people talking to each other. There is no other way to reach it. However, Israel was given statehood in 1950 with no preconditions, and I believe Palestine should be given the same.

For negotiations to work, it is helpful to have as level a playing field as possible and to have as much equality as possible between the sides, but that simply is not the case at present. As has already been said, after the Balfour declaration—which was not carried through entirely—we as a country have a bit of a moral obligation to give our support.

This year’s conflict in Gaza shows how unequal the two sides are. There were some 1,462 civilians killed on the Palestinian side and seven on the Israeli side. All of those are a personal disaster for the victims’ families and are regrettable, but we can see from the numbers the scale of the imbalance in this situation.