Still, however much the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other Israel-haters might chortle at the result at Westminster, and however disappointed those of us who love Israel and ache constantly for its welfare and security may be, this was hardly the "overwhelming" result that the ill-wishers are claiming.
The House of Commons has 650 members, of whom less than half voted on this issue, 44 per cent of all MPs. Probably even fewer would have voted, had not Miliband's Labour Party imposed a three-line whip on its members.
The resolution calls simply for the recognition of a Palestinian State alongside Israel. It says nothing about boundaries, Jerusalem, refugees, and the like.
Those who are inclined to see Mr Abbas and Fatah as moderate elements can comfort themselves with the thought that it will presumably strengthen them at the expense of Hamas.
In any case, it has no legal force, and will not affect government policy.
One of the Conservatives who voted in favour of the motion was Sir Alan Duncan, an erstwhile hopeful for the Conservative Party's leadership.
In linking to a video (since removed from the internet) in 2011 showing Duncan ranting against Israel, I wrote:
'Here's Call Me Dave's Minister for International Development Alan Duncan echoing his master's own demonstrated ignorance of the conflict. Evincing not an iota of sympathy for Israel, Duncan in self-righteous tones calls the security fence a "land grab" wall, and demonises Israel in other ways, just like the most egregious NGOs: assuming the 1949 ceasefire lines are definitive borders, falsely accusing Israel of "deliberately" stealing water in the Jordan Valley, and saying not one word about the terror threat that Israel constantly faces.'Here's what Wikipedia says about Duncan in relation to the notorious MPs' expenses scandal:
'On 15 May 2009, the satirical BBC programme Have I Got News For You showed footage of Duncan's previous appearance on the show in which he boasted about his second home allowance, denied that he should pay any of the money back and stated it was "a great system". The show then cut to footage of David Cameron announcing that Duncan would return money to the fees office, followed by Duncan's personal apology, in which he called for the system to be changed.
Duncan had claimed nearly £5,000 on gardening; pranksters from online magazine and marketing company Don't Panic paid a visit to his constituency home where they planted flowers in the shape of a pound sign on his lawn and left a money tree. On 14 August, Duncan said (whilst being filmed without his knowledge by Don't Panic), that MPs, who are paid around £64,000 a year were having, "to live on rations and are treated like shit. I spend my money on my garden and claim a tiny fraction on what is proper. And I could claim the whole lot, but I don't." These remarks attracted the attention of the press, and were criticised by commentators from all sides. Duncan apologised once more, and Cameron, though critical of Duncan's comments, denied that he would sack him from the Shadow Cabinet. Despite these assurances, on 7 September 2009, Duncan was "demoted" from the Shadow Cabinet, to become Shadow Minister for Prisons, after he and Cameron came to an agreement that his position was untenable.'A man who knows all about "moral standing" and the nature of "theft", then.
Here's a brief video in which his behaviour at the time is lampooned (yes, that is Rolf Harris at the beginning of the Have I Got News For You! segment!):
Below is what Alan Duncan said yesterday, at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI, regarding Israel (note the nod to Baroness Warsi, the view that "settlement endorsement" should be put on a par with racism, sexism, and homophobia, his slap at "Christian Zionists", and his slamming of certain representatives of "Jewish groups" in Britain, his inveighing against party funding from pro-Israel groups, and the claim that anyone supporting Israeli settlements should be considered an "extremist' unfit to bear public office or stand for political election.
This particularly sticks in the craw:
'....We need British Jews for the Conservative, Labour, or other UK parties; not the Israeli lobby for any party. The time has come to make sure above any doubt that the funding of any party in the UK is clearly decoupled from the influence of the Israeli state....
The time has come for us to make an international stand on the principle of illegal Israeli settlements. All who converse, all who interview, and all who debate are entitled to ask their interlocutor for a simple answer to a simple question. ‘Do you agree that Israeli settlements outside the 1967 borders are illegal – yes or no?’
If they give no answer at all, or equivocate, or actually say ‘no’, then we are entitled to brand such a person morally complicit in illegality, and therefore an extremist.
Anyone who supports illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian land is an extremist who puts themself outside the boundaries of democratic standards. They are not fit to stand for election or sit in a democratic parliament, and they should be condemned outright by the international community and treated accordingly.
Truth, principle, justice, morality, legality: they are all enduring values and they cannot and must not be bought or bullied into submission. For too long we have been too submissive on the principle of illegal settlements, and it is high time we stopped being so, and reasserted clearly and without fear, exactly what is legally and morally right and what is legally and morally wrong.'I cannot stress too strongly that this is a speech that MUST be endured until the end to appreciate how odious it is in great measure (the text version is here by the way):
Here's what Marvellous Melanie (on Facebook) says about the speech:
' Hard on the heels of the Commons vote recognising "Palestine", which I warned would strengthen those bent on Jew-hatred, comes this astonishing rant defaming both Israel and Jewish supporters of Israel by Sir Alan Duncan, David Cameron's special envoy to Yemen and Oman.
Duncan's tirade presents a picture of Israel that is false and wholly distorted. The core of his spitting hatred is his claim that Israel's settlements are illegal. There is an authoritative body of legal opinion that shows they are not illegal at all; the illegality trope is merely an anti-Israel canard. But even if they were illegal, this would hardly justify Duncan's venom and vituperation which seem quite out of control.
Thus he proposes that "settlement endorsing” should be regarded as on a par with sexism, homophobia and antisemitism. Pinch yourself: he's talking about houses for Israelis – built on land that is either legally bought from Arab owners or else legally built on land owned by nobody. And this he equates with antisemitism, the prejudice that has caused the persecution and mass murder of Jews. This is on a par with the mind-bending libel that equates Israelis with Nazis, in which the Jews are smeared by accusing them of the vileness of which they are in fact the victims.
Bizarrely, he claims that British policy has been that "on no account should we ever rock the boat by talking in tough language to Israel for fear of jeopardising the so-called Peace Process.” But HMG constantly upbraids Israel for its "illegal occupation" and settlements which it claims (quite wrongly) are scuppering the peace process.
He raves that it is “impossible to overstate the criminal intent and strategic importance” of Israel’s recently announced plan to build 2,600 homes in occupied East Jerusalem, which would “finalise the severing of Bethlehem from Jerusalem...This illegal construction and habitation is theft, it is annexation, it is a land grab – it is any expression that accurately describes the encroachment which takes from someone else something that is not rightfully owned by the taker,” he said.
It is impossible to overstate the wildness of these claims. Much of this building is only just over the 1947 ceasefire "green line". It is all land which in every set of negotiations has been understood and accepted by the Arabs will always be part of Israel. It is not stolen from anyone because either it is lawfully purchased or else it is not owned by anyone. And as was pointed out in this article: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/05/everything_you_know_about_israeli_settlements_is_wrong_1000_acres_west_bank
"Israel's actual settlement construction pace has reached a historical low. Only 507 housing units were approved for construction by Netanyahu's government in the first six months of 2014, a 71.9 percent decrease from the same period in 2013, with about one-third of those being built inside the major blocks that it is understood Israel will keep in any final status agreement. For a population of over 300,000 Israelis living in the West Bank, that pace of construction does not even allow for natural population growth, much less rapid expansion."
Duncan makes claims about allegedly vile behaviour by Jewish residents of Hebron which I have no means of checking are true or untrue. He makes no reference whatever, however, to the murderous attacks on those residents against which they have to be permanently guarded. He also claims that Israel practises apartheid; "as a description of Hebron it is both accurate and undeniable", he states. What is undeniable is that the apartheid claim is absolutely and ludicrously false. Hebron is not part of Israel and so its Arab residents are not Israeli citizens; the apartheid claim is therefore a baseless smear – and in its misrepresentation of the real thing also amounts to apartheid-denial.
And then there are Duncan's most snake-like remarks of all:
"Sir Alan, a former Tory party vice-chairman, said that he deplored anti-Semitism and absolutely backed Israel’s right to exist as a state. But while the UK’s Jewish community should be valued for its contribution to the fabric of Britain, it was wrong to conflate all Jews with Israel. 'Our politics has rules and one important such rule is that our political funding should not come from another country or from citizens of another country, or be unduly in hock to another country,' he said."
What exactly is he saying? That Israelis are secretly bunging bribes to British politicians? That Jews who fund British political parties must not be supporters of Israel? That any Jew who is such a supporter must be suspect? Is this the accusation of dual loyalty that gets routinely flung at British Jews who support Israel?
On BBC Radio's The World at One earlier, Duncan's Jewish conspiracy theory was rather less veiled."The United States is in hock to a very powerful financial lobby which dominates its policies", he said.
There is only one decent course of action for the Prime Minister to take in the light of the venom and bigotry displayed by his envoy to Yemen and Oman. He should sack him.'Coming back to Monday's vote, that well-known British friend of Israel Professor Denis MacEoin expressed things cogently the other day when he wrote:
'Many politicians and members of the public have come to see Palestinians as the world's underdogs, who, however ugly their behaviour, can do no wrong; and to portray Israel as a Nazi state that persecutes the Palestinians and "steals" the land -- mystifyingly -- of a people, the Jews, who have lived on that land for roughly 4,000 years.
"In a final resolution, we would not see a single Israeli -- civilian or soldier -- on our lands." — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight and kill the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and the trees will say, O Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. " — Hamas Charter, Article 7.
"[T]his struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated." Article 19, — Fatah [PLO] Constitution, as of July 19, 2005.
The British parliament, on October 13th, may be debating whether or not to recognize a Palestinian state.
Recognizing what in all likelihood would quickly become yet another Islamic terrorist state can only set a precedent that could have a disastrous impact on future negotiations and international law, and lead to the establishment yet more launching pads for people dedicated to violent jihad, not just in Israel, but, as they now openly admit, worldwide, including Britain and Sweden....
There is no Palestinian state to recognize in the first place: the Palestinians rejected the state they were offered by the UN in 1947, they have continued to reject it, and have for years been in breach of UN Resolution 242, to which they had agreed, that "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" since they demand withdrawal of Israel to the pre-1967 borders, something the resolution was carefully drafted to avoid. Unless Israel is given "secure and recognized boundaries." Such blasé repudiation of an internationally binding commitment is a breach only a totally illiterate politician would fail to see. So long as Israel is a state surrounded by violent countries such as Iran, Syria, Iranian-controlled Lebanon, Yemen -- as well as jihadist movements from Hamas to Hizbullah to Islamic State to Islamic Jihad, all overtly dedicated to its destruction -- no Palestinian state can be recognized....
Offering recognition to a "Palestinian State" only serves to give the Palestinians false hopes of achieving their ambition of wiping Israel off the map, literally -- it already started this process long ago by erasing Israel from all its maps -- and permanently upending the consensus of how international affairs are run.'observes:
Monday's vote in the House of Commons aiming at recognising a Palestinian state is certainly historic, and in several senses. It's a historic mistake; a historic instance of ignorance and bigotry at the heart of the British political system; and a historic gift to Islamist terrorism.
The mind boggles. With opinion polls showing that Hamas -- as bloodthirsty a terror group as Islamic State -- would win Palestinian elections if they were held any time soon, a bunch of Labour-led buffoons in Britain think this is exactly the right time to reward terrorism....
Who do these people think they are helping? Certainly not peace-loving Palestinians who are terrified at the prospect of a Hamas-led state. But, as we write this article from Jerusalem, and right after a trip to the West Bank, it is perfectly clear who would feel that they have benefited from British folly....'See also characteristic good sense from Douglas Murray
Regarding Obama and settlements, Isi Leibler has a good piece here