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British Parliament Votes Overwhelmingly In Favor Of Recognizing Palestine State, 274-12

The British public has been horrified by Gaza and its opinion of Israel has shifted. Even Conservative members of Parliament cited pressure from the public.

Via Phillip Weiss at Mondoweiss, coverage of a historic vote in Parliament and thoughts about the effect on U.S. policy:

Yesterday the British Parliament voted overwhelmingly (274-12) to recognize a Palestinian state, and if you listened to the debate, one theme above all else explains the crushing victory: The British public has been horrified by Gaza and its opinion of Israel has shifted. Even Conservative members of Parliament cited pressure from the public. As Labour’s Andy Slaughter said, Britain has witnessed a new “barbarism”:

I think that the British people have been on the same sort of the journey as the right hon. Member for Croydon South [Conservative Sir Richard Ottaway] described—it is certainly true of the Labour movement—from being very sympathetic to Israel as a country that was trying to achieve democracy and was embattled, to seeing it now as a bully and a regional superpower. That is not something I say with any pleasure, but since the triumph of military Zionism and the Likud-run Governments we have seen a new barbarism in that country.

Slaughter and a fellow Labour member, Kate Green, said that just as the British Parliament sent a message to Obama a year ago in voting to oppose the Conservative Prime Minister on attacking Syria, a vote Obama heeded in reversing course on a Syria attack, today the British Parliament aims to influence U.S. policy on Palestine.The Parliamentary debate was conducted in moral terms throughout, a fact that the parliamentarians described as historic. And the discussion was astonishing in its contrast to the stifled debate on these issues in the US Congress. (The debate can be found online: Section one here. Section two is here. Section three is here.)

Below I have made excerpts of the debate, emphasizing the powerful ideas the parliamentarians sounded that you would never hear in Washington. One lawmaker says that the occupation is “much worse” than apartheid in South Africa. Another says that the Balfour Declaration of 1917 now seems like a “sick joke,” because it never guaranteed freedom to Palestinians. Many members offer frank descriptions of Israeli detention of children and unending settlement expansion. Several describe Israeli actions in Gaza as war crimes. One mentions the use of terrorism by Mandela and Begin long before Palestinians used the tactic. Labour and Conservative members alike speak about the role of the Israel lobby in the United States. I should note that all these pols also supported the two-state solution. (I’ve largely ignored those portions because I believe the 2SS is a dead letter. But you can find the arguments at the links.)


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Imagine, a vigorous discussion by an elected body about the treatment of Palestinians by Israel. I wonder if we'll ever see that here.

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