Palestinians mark Nakba Day in Jerusalem

The British vote in parliament recognising a Palestinian state alongside Israel is seen by many as a landmark moment in British policy on the Palestinian question. The vote comes shortly after Sweden’s newly elected prime minister, Stefan Löfven, expressed his readiness to recognise the state of Palestine. But Sweden’s gesture is the more significant one, since Britain’s Conservative-led government has made it abundantly clear that the parliamentary vote will not change its positionon the Israel-Palestine issue.

Britain’s current position is that it would recognise a Palestinian state if it helped the peace process. Would it? Certainly, many on Israel’s left appear to think it will advance the prospect of a two-state solution. Former Israeli diplomats and members of Knesset were among the 363 Israelis who signed a letter encouraging British MPs to vote to recognise Palestine. They reflect the view of many of their compatriots who believe that Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state is dependent upon the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside it.

Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, has had little to show his people: with more than 300,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank, and the continued expansion of settlements, there are growing doubts over the viability of a two-state solution. As former US special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Martin Indyk points out, it is increasingly possible that a rising generation of Palestinians may lose their faith in the possibility of a two-state solution and will look instead to the possibility of acquiring full rights as Israeli citizens.

Were this to become a reality, Israel would be responsible for 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank. It will have to decide whether it will be both Jewish and democratic. Binyamin Netanyahu, who returned to power as Israel’s prime minister in 2009 after 10 years out of office, has stated that Israel needs to reach an agreement with the Palestinians to avoid becoming “a binational state”. However, his statement has yet to be translated into a coherent policy. Netanyahu is either unwilling to provide, or incapable of providing, the leadership required to end the occupation and bring forward a two-state solution.

There is a strong argument that the Netanyahu government will not budge on the Palestinian question unless it is faced with unrelenting international political and economic pressure. Some of this pressure already appears to be having an impact. The centrist parties within Israel’s governing coalition are increasingly alarmed over Israel’s growing isolation. The country’s justice minister, Tzipi Livni, has spoken of the international isolation facing Israel if it fails to reach a peace deal, while the finance minister, Yair Lapid, has warned Israelis that economic sanctions could cause massive damage to the economy. Read more…


By Azriel Bermant; Published on Oct. 13 in http://www.theguardian.com/


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