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UK parliamentary report calls on government to consider recognizing a Palestinian state

May 2, 2017 5:16 P.M. (Updated: May 3, 2017 8:58 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A report from the United Kingdom’s House of Lords released on Tuesday strongly criticized the British government’s “very degrading, dismissive attitude” towards international efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and suggested that it take a stronger stance to advance a two-state solution, including recognizing a state of Palestine.

The report by the upper parliamentary house’s International Relations Committee called for “new realism” as it looked at the country’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

Slamming US President Donald Trump’s policy-making as "mercurial and unpredictable," the report called for a more engaged British political stance in the Middle East, including vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine.

Calling the peace process “bogged down, static, and paralyzed for some years now,” the report denounced Trump’s ambivalent stance on the conflict, as the American head of state said in February that could “live with either” a one- or two-state solution, in a significant departure from the US’ publicly held position in favor of a two-state solution to the conflict.

The report also denounced Trump’s campaign promise to move the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as “inflammatory,” and his appointment of settlement supporter David Friedman as ambassador to Israel as likely to raise tensions.

Meanwhile, it narrowed in on the Israeli government’s expansion of illegal settlements as “diminish(ing) the possibilities of peace,” and quoted US-Middle East Project President Daniel Levy regarding the outpost Regularization law as “legalizing essentially the theft of Palestinian private property.”

The report was also critical of the international community’s reaction to Israeli violations of international law, saying that Israel was “treated with kid gloves.”

Lord Williams of Baglan, former UN Under-Secretary General and former UK Special Advisor on the Middle East, was quoted by the report as saying that a “little more political robustness is required with the government of Israel.”

However, the report said that the UK had not shown any such robustness, with Prime Minister Theresa May notably criticizing strongly worded statements made by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry over Israel’s illegal settlement expansion.

The House of Lords report also accused the UK of having “recently weakened its support of EU diplomacy” on Israel and Palestine by blocking a number of conclusions by the Council of the European Union, and holding what Levy called a “very degrading, dismissive attitude to the Paris conference,” which sought to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in January, by refusing to sign the declaration stemming from the conference.

Levy attributed the British attitude to a “post-Trump phenomenon” in which the UK’s conservative government has been carrying out an “ingratiation initiative” towards the new US cabinet.

The report called on the British government to support the French-led initiative meaningfully, “both politically and financially.”

It reiterated the UK’s position in support of a two-state solution, calling it “the only way to achieve an enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty.”

However, it warned that the current context made it increasingly likely that a two-state solution “becomes an impossibility and is considered no longer viable by either side,” and called for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to remain a priority in British foreign policy.

As part of its recommendation that the UK take a stronger stance on the conflict, the report called for the British government to seriously think about recognizing a state of Palestine.

“The government should give serious consideration to now recognizing Palestine as a state, as the best way to show its determined attachment to the two-state solution,” the report read.

“The balance of power in the delivery of peace lies with Israel. If Israel continues to reduce the possibilities of a two-state solution, the UK should be ready to support UNSC resolutions condemning those actions in no uncertain terms,” the report went on to add.

While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, a growing number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace given the existing political context, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
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