Campaigners have ramped up calls for the UK government to officially recognise the state of Palestine, following a right-wing win in the Israeli election.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right Likud party was marginally ahead of Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party, with 97% of all votes counted.
Netanyahu – a key ally of Trump – has promised to annex illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank is re-elected, further jeopardising hopes for a peace deal. He will likely form a coalition with other right-wing parties.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran – a potential leadership candidate and the first MP of Palestinian decent – recently introduced the Palestinian Statehood (Recognition) Bill.
It would require the UK government to recognise the State of Palestine within three months of the Bill being passed.
The UK would join the majority of countries if Moran’s Bill passed. It has support from Lib Dem, Labour, SNP, Plaid and Green MPs, including Vince Cable and Caroline Lucas.
Layla Moran MP said:
“The dead heat between Gantz and Netanyahu means uncertainty for Palestinians continues.
“Should Netanyahu emerge as the leader, I hope the international community will speak out against the far right positions that he expressed during the election such as the annexation of Palestinian occupied territory. Such flagrant flouting of international law cannot and should not be tolerated.
“Never has it been more important to reignite the dwindling flame of a two-state solution. The time has come for the UK to join the 70-plus [sic] states that have recognized the state of Palestine.
“With a new Israeli Government may yet come new opportunities for talks, but critically these must be between equals. That is why recognition of Palestine cannot wait a moment longer.”
Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told Left Foot Forward that while recognising Palestine would be a ‘positive’ step, it would be rendered meaningless unless action was taken on illegal settlements:
“It now looks very likely that Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to lead Israel’s governing coalition. Given his clear reassertion during the election campaign that a Palestinian state would not be created, but also his specific stated intent to annex all of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, it is time for the UK government to move from words of condemnation to meaningful action.
“This action should start with an immediate ban on goods from illegal settlements, and should also include the implementation of a two-way arms embargo with Israel until it ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.
“The re-election of a Prime Minster committed explicitly to the violation of international law demonstrates that change will not come within Israel without the exertion of such external pressure.”