VOICE OF THE JEWISH NEWS: MPs’ Palestinian vote reveals Israel’s Labour pains

VOICE OF THE JEWISH NEWS: MPs’ Palestinian vote reveals Israel’s Labour pains

Voice of the Jewish News
Voice of the Jewish News


Wishing you well over the fast!
Wishing you well over the fast!

What precisely, did Monday night’s House of Commons vote to recognise a Palestinian state change? Did it change the British government’s view? Did it give – or take – legitimacy away from anything or anybody? Did it spur one side on, or place constructive pressure on both?

The emphatic answer to all these questions is no. 
The best that can be said is that it has crystallised the idea that Britain supports a two-state solution – which, of course, we already knew, and which the vast majority of the Jewish community agrees with.
Unfortunately, one of the only things the vote does is highlight how far we are from this. 
Even Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a distinguished parliamentary supporter of a Palestinian state, said: “You do not recognise a state which has not yet got the fundamental ingredients that a state requires.”
How true. The current Palestinian government includes figures who unapologetically stand shoulder-to-shoulder with terrorists. And even those who prefer the role of the pen to the rocket-propelled grenade want millions of Palestinians to return to Israel.
It’s simply not feasible.
Another important aspect this vote emphasises is the stark difference of opinion on the issue within the Labour Party. 
Strict instructions to support the motion were flatly rejected by several MPs who conspicuously stayed away, viewing the order as a departure from policy and a move towards unilateralism.
One of the clearest indicators of nuance on this subject was provided by Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, who also recognised the importance of timing, saying that a Labour government wouldn’t necessarily recognise Palestine immediately on coming to office.
Israel’s supporters have every right to be concerned about why the party felt it necessary to go out of its way to crack the whip, especially given that doing so would risk exposing rifts in its own ranks. 
Indeed, the proof was in the pudding – one in four Labour MPs didn’t turn up.
This only adds to deepening concern felt towards by Israel supporters, many of whom are still raw over leader Ed Miliband’s sweeping criticism of Israeli military action during Operation Protective Edge.
The same Ed Miliband who will be hoping times change in May, when we come to vote.