Closely following the decision of Sweden’s new government that they will recognize the state of Palestine, the British parliament in a 274-12 vote yesterday has urged the British government to do the same. Although the vote is not binding on the government, it brings formal recognition that much closer.
There has been increasing anger at Israel’s actions, especially the latest slaughter it inflicted on the people Gaza and its subsequent annexation of yet more land for settlements.
Significantly Labour whipped its MPs to vote in favour of the resolution, raising the prospect that the party would defy Israel’s wishes and recognise Palestine as a state should it come to power at the next election.
But even previously staunch supporters of Israel within the Conservative Party chose not to oppose the motion which was brought by the backbench Labour MP Grahame Morris.
Richard Ottaway, chairman of the powerful Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said he no longer felt he could vote to deny the Palestinians the right of recognition because of recent Israeli actions.
“I have been a friend of Israel long before I became a Tory,” he told the House of Commons. “I have stood by Israel through thick and thin. But I realise now that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world international public opinion.
“The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. Under normal circumstances I would oppose this motion. But such is my anger over the behaviour of Israel that I will not be opposing it. I have to say to the government of Israel – if it is losing people like me it is going to be losing a lot people.”
Israel, aided by the US, has been getting away with violations of international law for a long time. But now it has gone so far that even staunch allies are deserting it. Sweden and UK are just the first of European countries to move away from them and they will not be the last.