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Palestine: Recognition — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:16 pm on 29th January 2015.

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Photo of Lord Steel of Aikwood Lord Steel of Aikwood Liberal Democrat 7:16 pm, 29th January 2015

My Lords, I thank everybody who has taken part in this debate. It has been a very serious and sombre debate, and a very constructive one. I noticed two threads on both sides of the argument where we are in agreement. First, I think that everybody who has spoken spoke in favour of a two-state solution. That is quite important because so many commentators outside have rather given up on that. I thought that was a common thread in this debate, which was significant. Secondly, everybody agreed that we must reach the peaceful situation that we want to see through negotiation. That is not a quarrel between us and I quite agree that we have to get into negotiations.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, reminded us at the beginning that the recognition of the state of Israel came into being when it was not really in a fit state, so the same would be true of the state of Palestine. However, my mind goes back to the meetings in 1980, to which I referred. Although we did not meet with the Government of Israel, we met with the official opposition, which was then led by Shimon Peres, for whom I have always had a very good regard.

I will end by quoting something that was said by Abba Eban, who was Israel’s first representative at the UN and its Foreign Minister. He said this about the 1967 aftermath:

“The Jewish people fail to understand that there was something contractual in our entry into the world. We promised to share the territory. The present position (that is occupation of the Palestinian territories) is a deviation from our birth. I never knew of a country that could successfully throw its birth certificate away”.

I just hope that in the coming elections in Israel, we will find other statesmen of that calibre to replace the present promoters of government in that country.

Motion agreed.