Middle East Peace Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:32 am on 30th January 2020.

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Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Foreign Secretary 10:32 am, 30th January 2020

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. Before I begin, may I take a brief moment to apologise to my colleagues on the SNP Benches for the language I used in the heat of hustings last week? Debating the middle east is a salutary reminder to me that there is no place for hatred in our politics, and also that on almost every foreign policy issue, including this one, we have opposed the Tory Government together. I am sorry for what I said.

Later this year, we will mark 25 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, who, like Egypt’s Anwar Sadat, was murdered because of his efforts to bring peace to the middle east; two leaders who had the courage to risk their lives to end decades of bloodshed in their region. What we saw instead at the White House on Tuesday was a betrayal; a desecration of Sadat and Rabin’s sacrifice. Trump and Netanyahu are two corrupt racist power-crazed leaders coming together not in the interests of peace, not to promote a two-state solution and not to end violence in the middle east, but simply to further their chances of re-election by doing the opposite. What a bitter irony that the next US presidential election will take place on the day before Rabin’s 25th anniversary, with Trump trading on the politics of division that Rabin tried to reject and treading all over the legacy of peace that Rabin left others to follow.

Let us make no mistake: this so-called peace plan has nothing in common with the Oslo accords. It destroys any prospect of an independent, contiguous Palestinian state. It legitimises the illegal annexation of Palestinian land for settlers. It puts the whole of Jerusalem under Israeli control. It removes the democratic rights of Palestinians living in Israel and removes the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land. This is not a peace plan; it is a monstrosity and a guarantee that the next generation of Palestinian and Israeli children, like so many generations before them, will grow up knowing nothing but fear, violence and division. Trump and Netanyahu care nothing about those children’s futures; they care only about their own.

The only question—the urgent question—I have today is why on earth are our Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary just going along with this sham of a peace deal by actively welcoming it and saying that Palestine should get behind it? That is a shameful betrayal of decades of consensus, across this House and from one Government to another, that we should unswervingly and neutrally support progress towards a two-state solution, a prospect that this plan permanently rips away. I ask the Government: why are they supporting this plan? Why will they not, for pity’s sake, recognise the independent contiguous state of Palestine while there is still one left to recognise?