Category Archives: International Politics

Recognition of Palestine – letter to MP regarding debate and vote in Parliament

Today I have written to my MP to ask her to attend the debate and support the motion in the House of Commons next Monday, which calls for the UK to recognise a Palestinian state. I urge others to do the same – you are very welcome to use my letter as a template. The UK recognised the state of Israel in 1950, without any negotiations or pre-conditions. Surely the Palestinians are entitled to the same? The UK’s stated policy towards Palestine and Israel is that there should be a ‘two-state’ solution, but how can that be achieved when we will only recognise the right of Israel to exist?

Dear Chi,

I am writing as a constituent to ask that you attend the debate and support the motion being put to the House of Commons on Monday 13th October, specifically that ‘This House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel’.

As you will know, the Labour Party supported recognition when the Palestinians took their case to the UN General Assembly in 2011. Just last month, at our party Conference Douglas Alexander reiterated that support for recognition saying ‘recognition of Palestine is not a gift to be given, but a right to be had.’

This statement clearly indicates that support for Palestinian recognition should not be subject to preconditions. So I trust you will vote for the motion, and against the amendment demanding that Palestinians only receive recognition from the UK in return for accepting Israel’s demands in negotiations. The Israeli government has repeatedly refused any clear parameters for negotiations, refusing to negotiate on the basis of international law and relevant UN resolutions.

Britain has accepted Palestine’s right to statehood. There is no excuse not to recognise Palestine , or to delay recognition according to Israel’s wishes. Britain, as the former colonial power, failed the people of Palestine in 1948 and we must not continue to fail these stateless people.

Recognising Palestine is to recognise Palestinian right to self-determination. Bilateral recognition of Palestine is in the UK’s hands: Israel should have no right of veto over Palestinian self-determination. Israel argues that recognition of a Palestinian state should only come through negotiation, but the right to statehood and self-determination should not be in the hands of the Israeli state. When Britain recognised the state of Israel in 1950, there was no negotiation.

Those on both sides of the debate about recognition repeatedly state their desire for a ‘two-state’ solution, but those who fail to support this motion are, in effect, only prepared to recognise one state. How can that be conducive to their expressed desire of a ‘two-state’ solution? Unless we recognise a Palestinian state, talk of a ‘two-state’ solution will remain cheap rhetoric.

I realise that Backbench debates are not subject to Party discipline, so you will vote according to the wishes of your conscience and your constituents. I trust that you make the right choice and I urge you to vote ‘yes’ to the motion and against any amendments.

Best wishes


North Korea – just ignore them!

Watching news reports from South Korea it appears that we in the West are more concerned about the recent posturing by the North Korean leadership than South Koreans who would be first in the line of fire. As the US (and bit-part player the UK) ratchet up the rhetoric, perhaps the best strategy would be to just ignore the threats?

North Korea has a relatively new leader, who could be using this opportunity to buy valuable credits for future negotiations over aid. By talking up war, and then backing down at the inevitable talks to avert war, the North Korean leader can play the tough leader at home and the level-headed negotiator abroad.

Further, the relationship with China is not what it once was. North Korea can no longer rely on the silence of China, even less the support of China. This is not the 1980s or 1990s. China is increasingly looking to establish itself as a major rival to the hegemony of the US, and a noisy neighbour in North Korea will not help it fulfil its global objectives.

Finally, is North Korea really a threat to the US or the UK? I suppose the reality is that nobody really knows, but sensible analysis would land on the side of North Korea not being a threat. The country has been isolated for decades, increasingly so since the collapse of the USSR and the more recent cooling of relations with China. Despite a large army, North Korea would lack the capacity and might to conduct a modern war, especially against the US. It very much reminds me of the events that led to the invasion of Iraq ten years ago; we were constantly told that Iraq had WMDs and that it represent a real and immediate threat. We then watched US and UK forces invade with relative ease, against an Iraqi army that was inferior.

Every response from the US and UK will be met with more extreme threats and grandstanding from North Korea. In my view the best response would be to ignore the threats, and continue with quiet diplomacy about the wider issues of peace and poverty on the Korean peninsula.