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I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Steel, not only on securing this debate but on finding a neat way of dealing with the difficult issue of how you negotiate with a terrorist organisation. One thing is sure: if we recognise Palestine as a state now, there will not be any need to negotiate with the terrorists because they will not negotiate with Israel or any other country seeking to broker a settlement. Negotiation inevitably means compromise. Why should the terrorists compromise? They will have achieved their main goal, without giving away anything. They will have statehood without conditions and without compromise, and, most of all, without having to recognise that the State of Israel exists and is entitled so to do. All they need to do is sit back, set off a few more rockets and wait until the UN resolves to give them even more.
Acknowledging that Israel exists and is entitled to exist has been the major stumbling block previously when the Palestinians have been offered a peaceful way to achieve their own state. They were offered and rejected statehood three times. The first occasion was, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, said, in November 1947, when by Resolution 181 the UN called for the creation of both a Jewish and a Palestinian state. The second was in the summer of 2000, when Yasser Arafat rejected the Barak peace plan. That plan offered the Palestinians all of Gaza, most of the West Bank and no Israeli control over the border with Jordan or the adjacent Jordan Valley. There was a small Israeli annexation around three settlement blocs, but this was balanced by an equivalent area of Israeli territory that would have been ceded to the Palestinians. In 2008, Prime Minister Olmert extended the Barak proposal by offering to split Jerusalem. President Abbas rejected this, too.
In its 1988 charter, Hamas, which controls Gaza, called for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine in place of Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel. That demand has never changed. On that issue, Hamas has been and remains uncompromising.
All here want peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Most would support the two-state solution, but this is not the way to achieve it. Just as we are debating here, in this mother of Parliaments, the proposition—