“O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. … We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us.” (Psalm 79:1, 4)
Last Monday, the United Kingdom’s House of Commons voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state alongside Israel.
In a vote that gave Hamas a virtual pass, 274 parliamentarians voted in support of a nonbinding motion to compel the government “to recognize the State of Palestine as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.” Twelve voted against the motion.
Instead of advancing peace, however, the motion hinders it.
“Premature international recognition sends a troubling message to the Palestinian leadership that they can evade the tough choices that both sides have to make, and actually undermines the chances to reach a real peace,” Israel’s Foreign Minister stated in response.
Palestinians, however, welcomed the vote, and Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on Tuesday urged London to transform the vote into official UK policy, calling on London to “immediately recognize the state of Palestine.” (Arutz Sheva)
Senior Palestine Liberation Official Hanan Ashrawi issued a statement that said the vote “will enhance the European voices calling for the recognition of the State of Palestine and will create the right environment for the international community to grant the Palestinian people legal parity and rights.”
On Tuesday, in an interview with Israel Radio, British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said, “Although this vote won’t affect government policy, I think it is right to be concerned about what it signifies in terms of the direction of public opinion.”
While the symbolic vote does not change Britain’s foreign policy, it disregards the steps required for the conflict-resolution process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to succeed.
“The route to Palestinian statehood runs through the negotiation room,” the Israeli Embassy in London said after the vote. (YNet)
In a response to the vote, the British chapter of the StandWithUs, a non-profit pro-Israel education and advocacy organization, stated on Tuesday that the atmosphere of the debate was marked with a disturbing tone and provocative remarks.
“With MPs from across the political spectrum accusing Israel of encouraging racial hatred—or speaking of an all-powerful ‘Jewish lobby,’ there is definitely something wrong in the way our elected representatives perceive the conflict,” StandWithUs states.
Paul Hirschson, a spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry, said the government of Israel already supports a Palestinian state, “so there’s no big deal here on substance; the question is process.” (Time)
On Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said recognition of a Palestinian state must not be symbolic.
He told Frances’ lower house National Assembly, “From the moment that we say there must be two states (Israel and Palestine), there will be a need for recognition of the Palestinian state, that goes without saying.”
“The only question is what are the procedures and how to be most effective. What we want is not a symbolic issue but to be helpful to peace,” he continued.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also dismissed Monday’s symbolic vote by refusing to take part in it. At present, Cameron’s government stands against recognition of a Palestinian state but would change its position at any time if it would assist the peace process, according to officials. (JPost)
The British House vote comes three days after Sweden’s newly elected Prime Minister Stefan Löfven broke Swedish law by acting alone to recognize an independent Palestinian state without approval from the country’s Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs. (JPost)
Swedish Parliament member Annicka Engblom called Löfven’s action out of turn: “Our practice in Swedish foreign policy is [that for a state to be recognized, it] has to fill certain criteria such as full control over territory and functioning of the government, such as in Kosovo before we recognized Kosovo,” Engblom explained.
In contrast to calls to reach a solution through negotiation, PA legislator Hanan Ashrawi said that “the recognition of Palestine is not contingent on the outcome of negotiations with Israel and certainly not something we will trade for.”
The PA does not seek a mutual peace agreement with Israel because its charter does not recognize the right of Israel to exist.
“Fatah’s Charter declares unambiguously: ‘Our struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished, and Palestine is completely liberated,'” reminds International Law Professor Louis René Beres of Purdue University.
“Even now, the official PA map identifies Israel as a mere part of Palestine. The official logo of PA Television still shows all of Israel as Occupied Palestine, with only the Palestinian capital in Jerusalem,” Beres added. (Arutz Sheva)
“Fatah’s official insignia remains: Israel smothered by a grenade, bayoneted rifle, and submachine gun. All PA school textbooks use a map of the Middle East in which Israel does not even exist, and has been replaced in its entirety by a state called Palestine,” Beres adds.
This primary goal of Fatah and Hamas to eliminate Israel coupled with unilateral moves to create a Palestinian state opposes the 1993 Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) agreement during the Oslo Peace Accords to negotiate a solution through territorial compromise. During those accords, the PLO officially recognized Israel, and Israel officially recognized the PLO as a negotiating partner in the remaining issues leading to statehood.
But like all attempted peace plans, terrorism trumped diplomacy when the Second Intifada erupted in September 2000 against Israel.
“I will encamp at My Temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun My people, for now I am keeping watch.” (Zechariah 9:8)