In Symbolic Vote, UK Parliament urges Recognition of Palestine

By Juan Cole

There are 650 members of the British parliament, so the vote on Monday by 271 of them to recognize Palestine is hardly an overwhelming victory for supporters of this position. On the other hand, only 12 voted against. Most MPs seem to have made themselves scarce.

The vote was a project of the Labour Party primarily, though some conservatives voted for the measure. the conservative Telegraph newspaper argued that the measure only passed because Labour leaders put enormous pressure on MPs of that party and because they compromised in the language at the last minute to say the recognition of Palestine should be within the framework of a negotiated peace settlement. Ed Milliband and his circle of Labour leaders denied that they had twisted their members’ arms to vote for the resolution.

The Conservative government leadership abstained and is very unlikely to follow through on this vote, which in the British system can only be advisory for the prime minister and his cabinet, since they actually make foreign policy.

It is a significant development, however, because Labour could eventually come back to power and might well pull a Sweden by actually recognizing Palestine. The European Union is moving gradually in this direction.

Although the EU is most often thought toothless in the Arab-Israeli conflict, its positions could have a big impact. Some 33 percent of Israeli trade is with Europe, and it depends heavily on technology transfers and de facto membership in many EU organizations. The effect of the recognition of Palestine by EU member states is to give Palestine standing to pursue legal complaints in European courts.

Israel is plainly in contravention of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which forbid a military occupying power to flood occupied territory with its own citizens, as well as of a number of EU statutes. Palestine could theoretically take West Bank squatter enterprises to court in EU states and win big judgments. Many Israel companies have European operations or even branches and are vulnerable to such judgments. Businesses and other institutions of civil society are already boycotting Israel over its West Bank squatting.

So the immediate practical impact of this vote is small. The symbolic impact is quite large. But the most important thing about it is that it points to the future, a future disadvantageous to Israel economically, technologically and politically, as long as it continues its massive land grab in the Palestinian West Bank.

Related video:

RT America: “UK parliament recognizes State of Palestine”

15 Responses

  1. If only one British MP seriously believed in this vote to recognize Palestine and had the courage to stand in defiance of Israel and its UK lobby, that’s one more than what Congress came up with.

    • Actually Rep. John Conyers of Detroit has a virtually perfect pro-Palestine voting record in U.S. Congress.

      He voted against H.R 268, which opposed the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

  2. Symbolic it may appear to some, but such a motion is an established and integral part of the British parliamentary system. It’s usefulness is it allows contentious issues to be brought into the open, debated and aired without the necessity for any dramatic immediate action. As such it has in this case performed its function, the debate was courteously conducted, informed and informative, and I am sure it left anyone who followed it clearer about the issue than any number of contradictory journalistic contributions. There was surprisingly little hasbara and what there was only exposed the paucity of meaningful arguments against the motion. The vote itself should prove salutary to Israeli decision makers and an inspiration to other European lawmakers.

  3. There is no point to this vote. Palestine is crushed and defeated politically. There will be no chance for them to survive by engaging with a system that allows them to be stripped of their land and murdered. Surrender or fight.

    • Good point They will never surrender but fight to the last man But How are they going to fight unless some states/nations/multi billionaires are ready to fund and supply the necessary weapons and more importantly territories from where they can launch a fight to the finish Mind you every empire has a shelf life so are the Zionist Empire of Firauns Who fought to liberate the Muslim lands from Stalins Russia

    • This is the only fight the Palestinians have a prayer of winning. For decades they’ve been painted as blood crazed zealots hellbent on genocide and enraged by the thought of peace.

      The Palestinian leadership have been practicing nonviolent resistance and establishing their theoretical nation as a part of the international community.

      Meanwhile the Israeli leadership have been poisoning their own reservoirs of international goodwill with increasingly public displays of brutality, open bigotry and the cynical exploitation of the holocaust to tar their every enemy as the new Hitler hellbent on their extermination.

      The vote accomplished no immediate or direct results, but that such a thing would occur at all was unthinkable five years ago.

  4. Hopefully this news will be heard all over the world, and particularly in the U.S.A., but also in Canada. I’m Canadian and our conservative government is totally in favour of Israel, no matter how aggressive, dangerous, murderous, and so on, Israel is…

  5. What difference would it make if Palestine became a state if Israel can assault it and its people with impunity?

    • The State of Palestine was declared on November 15, 1988 by the P.L.O.

      The entire goal of a final status agreement is for that state to be free of Israeli interference and have true sovereignty.

      Israel wants to maintain control over roads and open areas in the West Bank, giving the Palestinian Authority only “islands” of self-rule within that region.

    • The fact that Lebanon, Syria and Iraq were states didn’t keep Israel from attacking them overtly and Iran covertly.

    • What would it take? Plainly, intervention by an advanced and benevolent alien species. Nothing short of that would release Congress from their Israel idolization.

  6. Isn’t the really important point that comes out of this vote that only twelve British parliamentarians could bring themselves to side with Israel on this matter?

    Sure, 367 of them were AWOL on the day but, then again, who would want to be seen attempting to defend the indefensible?

    Twelve shameless Zionists, apparently.
    Out of 650.

    Says it all, really……

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