Britain should vote ‘yes’ on the question of Palestinian statehood…
As the U.N. Security Council’s vote on Palestinian statehood approaches, Britain, along with the rest of Europe, is keeping silent about which way it will vote, “in order to exert as much pressure on both sides to return to negotiations”. This statement is misleading, phrased as though responsibility for the failure of negotiations rested equally on both parties.
The leaked Palestine Papers clearly showed us the compromises Palestine were willing to make in negotiations on settlements and on the right of return for refugees in order to achieve peace and form a state. These compromises were met with obstructions and further unreasonable demands from Israel.
The failure of peace talks therefore rests squarely with Israel, who even now refuse to freeze settlement building, which is itself acknowledged to be illegal by both the US and the EU.
In this political climate, Palestine’s decision to turn to the UN is understandable and pragmatic. If it were successful, while it may not immediately change facts on the ground, it would put Palestine in a stronger position from which to negotiate, and demonstrate to Israel the opinion of the international community that it needs to show a real willingness to work towards peace.
Although the US have vowed to use their power of veto to block the vote, it is still important that as many countries as possible vote “yes” to demonstrate to US their isolation and the unsustainability of their policy of blindly supporting Israel against all logic or reason. Indeed, there is no reason why any country which acknowledges the necessity for a two state solution, which supposedly the US (and Israel) does, should have any problem with Palestine achieving UN recognition.
Public opinion has given a clear mandate for the UK to vote “yes” to recognise Palestine with 59% voting in favour according to a recent YouGov poll. It is time for the government to stand up and show the world that it’s rhetoric of supporting states in their quest for self-determination contains actual substance.
Lucy Emmerson is a British writer and political commentator based in Cairo, focusing on the Arab Spring and other key developments in the region. You can follow her blog here