UK Labour MP: Palestinians deserve to live in peace and prosper like Israelis do
RT: The vote is non-binding - what were you planning to achieve by proposing it?
Grahame Morris: Our intention was or is, because the debates are going to take place later this evening in the House of Commons, is to make the arguments to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.
We want to have the recognition of Palestine now. We feel that the conditions are right and the Palestinian authorities meets all the preconditions determined by the IMF, the World Bank, the institutions and we feel it would be a tangible contribution to moving forward after the collapse of the Kerry peace process we want to reengage the Americans and the EU in a process.
What we have after that terrible loss of life following the Israel incursion into Gaza where over 2,000 people lost their lives, 500 of them were children - what we have is an ongoing a deepening, and brutal on occasions occupation. It isn’t peace: neither the Palestinians, not the Israelis have peace. We need to have a negotiated settlement. Our view is that recognition now would end that process. Recognition is a right not a privilege, and Israel should not have a veto of British or indeed any other country’s foreign policy. So we are pressing the case for recognition now.
RT: Sweden recently announced it plans to recognise Palestine - is the timing of your proposal just a coincidence?
GM: It is as a matter of fact. I salute Swedes for having the courage to do so. 135 countries including Sweden have now recognized the state of Palestine. I think if the UK did so perhaps a number of other members of the EU would follow suit. Maybe we are able to bring some diplomatic pressure to bear on Israelis to enter serious negotiations. It is a positive step.
I welcome what the Swedes are doing. It is a move towards equalizing the playing field because at the moment Israel holds all the cards in terms of states, in terms of institutions, in terms of military might. If we were to recognize the state of Palestine they could sit at the negotiating table with more states to be able to reach an agreement. The Israelis want states to recognize it only after the outcome of successful peace talks.
The fear of many Palestinians and many informed observers is that agreement would never come because the Israelis continue the policy of expanding the illegal settlements in contravention of UN charters and resolutions. They continue the appropriation of the Palestinian lands. We must try to do something to equal the arguments and this would be rather more symbolic gesture because we would go through it to reenergize the process.
RT: Do you expect other countries in Europe to follow suit?
GM: Absolutely. Sweden recognized a week or so ago. I hope that the other countries will also recognize whether that would be a follow in the UK, perhaps France, perhaps Italy. The UK does have a historic role, it does have some responsibilities, it does have a moral obligation to the Palestinian people going back over 60 years to the time of the Balfour Declaration. There is a bond there and there is an obligation, and the Palestinian people deserve justice, they deserve to be able to live in peace, to prosper, to enjoy the right to travel freely, to have their children educated, free from fear of arrest and arbitrary sanction. I think there is a very strong moral case to recognize the state of Palestine, and to move forward into meaningful peace talks.
RT: Do you expect this vote to affect the Israel-Palestine peace process in any way?
GM: I think it will, because Israel has been able to act to a degree with impunity. It is hidden behind the shield of recognition and shield of indifference from the international community. This broadcast has been filmed in London, and we have had a huge demonstration over 100,000 people taking to the streets in a show of support for the Palestinian people all across the UK: the cities in the Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. So public opinion is shifting. The Israeli government should take note of this. They no longer have moral high ground. People think that there should be justice for Palestine. The Palestinians should have a just and lasting peace, and they have the same right to security and the prosperity as the Israelis.
RT:Not everyone within your party supports this motion - is the split deep?
GM: The motion is being proposed - can only win with the support of other parties. The policy of my party is to recognize the State of Palestine. The issue is all over timing. I suspect a large proportion, probably the largest proportion of those who would be voting for the motion would be members of the labor party. But we also need support and indeed members of other parties will also be supporting the proposal to recognize the State of Palestine in division lobbies. We will see later this evening. We are expecting the votes at about 10 o’clock, UK time.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.