British vote on Palestine purely symbolic without human rights upheld

Richard Sudan
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
British vote on Palestine purely symbolic without human rights upheld
Next week the British parliament will, for the first time, vote on whether or not to recognize Palestine as an independent state. Currently the United Kingdom does not, while 138 members of the UN, the vast majority, do recognize Palestine.

In 2012, when Palestine achieved non-member observer status at the United Nations, Britain abstained.

In a move which would be largely symbolic if successful, the vote comes off the back of Sweden’s announcement that its new government plans to recognize Palestine.

Unsurprisingly, the Swedish ambassador to Israel was duly summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain and justify the move supported by most countries and called for by many human rights groups.

Some say it would be a significant step, in that recognition would help draw attention to the plight of the Palestinians, which many people rightly argue lacks fair representation and media coverage.

Undoubtedly, should the vote go through, British Prime Minster David Cameron whose government opposes the backbench motion, would feel the diplomatic pressure on his shoulders become heavier.The calls to stifle support for the apartheid state of Israel would become louder.Just like in South Africa, which no one would deny needed to be boycotted and pressured to bring about the eventual change which took place, many feel this is also needed with Israel, a one vote per person state with equal rights for all.What's so wrong with that?

Interestingly, despite Cameron government's opposition to a free Palestine and for the Palestinians to have self-determination, Cameron himself once even described Gaza as an "open air prison.”

The vote in the British parliament has been pushed through by the Labour Party Friends of Palestine group, after the bombardment and attack on Gaza by Israel during the summer, which left hundreds dead, including many children. It also left many outraged and bewildered as to how such carnage could be allowed to take place in the first place. A significant proportion of the infrastructure and buildings of Gaza were destroyed too, which will likely take many years to repair.

Outrage over the monstrous campaign of terror sparked mass demonstrations in central London and throughout the world.

In fact, it was Israel's latest assault on Gaza, which led to outrage and consternation across the board, from the public and from politicians, resulting in many UK backbenchers calling for a vote on Palestinian recognition.

Such was the extent and depth of outrage at the merciless slaughter of civilians in Gaza this summer that in a move which surprised many, and which undoubtedly cause the government embarrassment Baroness Warsi resigned as a government minister in an act of protest over the Israeli bombings.

There was also outcry and protest at the way many media outlets, including the BBC, reported on Israel’s bombing of Gaza, which far from being impartial, could not have leaned more favorably towards the settler state than it did.

Many however, feel that after years and years of a failed peace process which has gone nowhere, the so-called acknowledgement of Palestine at the United Nations will provide little more than a fig leaf of legitimacy, for Israel’s continual occupation and expansion into Palestinian land.

Palestinian children hold Palestinian flags as they play near the ruins of their houses, which witnesses said were destroyed during the seven-week Israeli offensive, in the devastated area of the east of Gaza City September 22, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

The illegal settlements grow and continue to expand, regardless of any negotiations or so-called progress in the so-called peace process.

It’s also the same United Nations, which is essentially rendered powerless in changing anything on the ground for Palestinians, when nations like the United States continually use the power of their veto to ensure that any progress is hindered- this in addition to doing everything they can to make sure other member states follow US policy.

Indeed, while the UK and Sweden would be among the few internationally, and on their own within Europe, to acknowledge Palestine if it voted in favor of recognition, it’s worth bearing in mind, that it was the same United Nations which first brought the State of Israel into existence in 1948.

During the Nakba (catastrophe) some 800,000 Palestinians were forced from their land, and Israel has continued to expand its settlements illegally ever since.The Palestinians have a legal right enshrined under international law to return to the land which belongs to them, and also a legal right to exist and resist occupation.

What does all this political hype really mean, if institutions like the UN are ineffective, international law is repeatedly broken by Israel, and war criminals who sign off on barbaric bombing campaigns of people in Gaza walk free, never facing a war crimes tribunal?

It beggars belief, that many people characterize the resistance of Palestinians as terrorism, when in fact it is the colonial settler state of Israel which continues to break international law, with the full-fledged support and backing of the United States committing acts of terrorism daily.

So, what will happen on Monday? It's difficult to imagine the 650 MPs which make up “the mother of parliaments” all turning up to vote, never mind them voting in favor of recognizing Palestine-especially given the fact that the idea of the state of Israel was born within its walls.

Nevertheless, it will be a historic vote, and a historic day for British politics. At the very least it’s clear, that the fact the vote has been called in the first place, means that many are beginning to see the true reality lived by ordinary Palestinians.

And regardless, even if viewed as progress, the result will not change the direction of the decades old colonial occupation. Palestinians need to have their basic human rights acknowledged, and international law must be implemented in order for some semblance of justice to take place.

All the rest is simply more window dressing, which risks blinding people to the actual truth regarding the Israeli Palestinian conflict, or impasse.

The reality is that this is not a conflict, and it’s hard to imagine the same system which gave Palestinian land to the Israel in 1948 in the first place, suddenly now acknowledging them as equal human beings to the rest of the world.

The world holds its breath as the British Parliament gets ready to vote on Monday.The Palestinians however, probably won't.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.