Lib Dem’s Moran renews call for UK to recognise Palestinian state

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Lib Dem’s Moran renews call for UK to recognise Palestinian state

Layla Moran argues her case for her Palestine statehood (recognition) bill in parliament, but minster Andrew Mitchell says 'now is not, in our view,  the time to take this step'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Lib Dems Layla Moran

(pic Parliament TV)
Lib Dems Layla Moran (pic Parliament TV)

The Liberal Democrats foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran has called again for the UK to immediately recognise a Palestine state, claiming Israeli settlement growth “acts like a woodworm” destroying “the foundations of any peace process”.

The British Palestinian MP spoke out as she brought her Palestine statehood (recognition) private members bill to the House of Commons on Friday, saying the proposals “ask the British government to recognise the state… without any preconditions.”

It bill calls for the government to formally recognise Palestine as a “sovereign and independent state on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, and the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination in the State of Palestine.”

It also demands that the Mission of Palestine in London is afforded full diplomatic status.

But responding for the government, development minister Andrew Mitchell told MPs “now is not, in our view,  the time to take this step.”

Mitchell added “But recognising a Palestinian state is a powerful diplomatic tool and one we will deploy when it best serves the objectives of peace.”

Moran, whose mother comes from a Greek Orthodox Jerusalem family, told MPs that in her view, the 1917 Balfour Declaration that paved the way for the eventual formation of a Jewish state in 1948 represented a “historical aberration” because it was “silent on the Palestinian political rights question.”

She said the declaration, which had offered a “national homeland for the Jews in Palestine” and had spoken of “safeguarding civil and religious rights” of non-Jews, had nevertheless “whether we like it or not altered reality in the region and played a significant part in the story where peace has now never seen more elusive.”

Speaking to Jewish News ahead of Friday’s debate, Moran said the argument that there was in reality no viable Palestinian leadership with which Israel could negotiate any peace deal with, did not impact on the intentions of her bill.

Moran, who had previously strongly condemned Hamas as “authoritarian, antisemitic and homophobic” also told of her disapproval of terror groups such Lions Den, who had become increasingly popular amongst young Palestinians frustrated by their own leaders and the actions of Israel.

She also told the Commons: “I don’t think the timing of this bill could be more apt.

“Year after year since the demise of the Oslo Accords the situation in Palestine has gone from bad to worse.

“But I would say the current Israeli government, led by Mr Netanyahu and his cabinet including convicted criminals, is deeply, deeply problematic.

“Not just as an existential threat to Israel as a democracy.”

Moran said her bill “said to Netanyahu, and Ben Gvir and to Smotrich, and all those who believe Israeli aggression is justified that we don’t accept their flagrant flouting of international law. And instead we want to give hope to Palestinians.”

Focusing on the settlement issue, which she said was now openly supported by the Israel government, rather than just overlooked, Moran said: “It’s points around the settlements that we really need to focus on.

“It is these encampments that have led to huge tensions and Palestinian people, especially young people are increasingly desperate.

“Settlement proliferation acts like a woodworm. It’s riddling the foundations of any peace process and any viable Palestinian state.”

Moran revealed she had recently met with official from the Conservative Friends of Israel to discuss her continued aspirations for UK recognition of a Palestinian state. She described the meeting as “friendly and constructive.”

And she admitted she had repeatedly faced criticism that her bill was premature, when there were no negotiated borders for any future Palestinian state.

“I mean, this equally applies to Israel,” she reasons, “because these are also Israel’s borders, and that hasn’t stopped us recognising Israel.”

Moran said that what her bill does offer is “hope”. She said her point about settlements was that in many areas they were “eating out what used to be treasured jewels in the Palestinian crown” giving the example of the centre of Hebron.

The Oxford West and Abingdon MP compared the metal gates, and regular confrontations in Hebron’s once “bustling market town” with the flourishing of the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

“I want to be clear, ” she added. “I don’t begrudge Israel its success. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, I am the daughter of Palestine, but I am also a friend of Israel.

“But what is the point of a friendship if we are not occasionally critical.”

Moran said she was fully aware that the bill itself was not the “silver bullet” that what fix the growing problems in the region.

“I am not naive,” she said, “this is not going to fix the problem, concerted international efforts are going to help with that.

“We also need to strengthen the hand, particularly of Palestinians, when that negotiated settlement can come.

“But I do urge the government to think there are consequences without actions, and there needs to be some actions.

“So this bill would encourage other countries to follow in our stead. And it would encourage the other 138 countries that have recognised Palestine, including Sweden, and it would also right some of that historic wrong that was done in Balfour 100 years ago.”




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