British House of Commons in London..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – An Ed Miliband-led Labor government will push very hard for the creation of a Palestinian state based on a two-state solution, the Labor leader and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander pledged this week.
Addressing the Labor Friends of Palestine and the Middle East reception on Monday evening during the Labor Party’s annual conference being held in Manchester, Alexander stated amid loud applause that he regarded statehood for the Palestinians not as a gift to be given, “but as a right to be recognized.”
Both Labor politicians strongly criticized Prime Minister David Cameron and the coalition government for their policies during the recent Gaza conflict, with Miliband describing how they had decided “to take a stand” during the summer, “because we thought it was the right thing to do” against the “terrorism of Hamas,” but “also against the Israeli incursion into Gaza.”
To answer the question ‘why?,’ he explained that they knew that the Israeli action would “perpetuate the cycle of violence, tragedy and loss of innocent life.”
In seeking support for their approach, Miliband said it was based on speaking without fear or favor “as we think it is right” in trying to achieve their ultimate aim of a two-state solution.
“So we were absolutely clear about the stand we took on Gaza, and I believe it was the right one,” he added.
After reiterating how grave the situation had become, Miliband said Britain should not just be an observer to what the United States in general, and its Secretary of State John Kerry in particular, were doing. “We need to be persuaders too,” he said, and he committed a Labor government to a policy where it would “no longer disengage from the situation, nor stand by on the side lines, nor ignore the importance of both Israel’s security and a viable Palestinian state.”
Alexander elaborated on how that would translate into policy were he to become foreign secretary after next May’s general election.
He attacked Cameron for his “inexplicable silence” during the Gaza conflict in sharp contrast to his own warning given in the House of Commons illustrating the willingness of the Labor Party to “speak up and speak out” to say that an Israeli ground invasion would represent a disaster for both those in Gaza and the Israelis, before adding that “it would reflect a strategic error on the part of Israel.”
And he maintained he was “unyielding in his condemnation of Hamas rockets and the terrorization of civilian populations,” but that having witnessed more than 2,000 deaths and a repeat pattern of permanent blockades, occupation and periodic invasion, it was time to break the cycle and drive through “a political solution.”
Alexander said the Labor Party should oppose the ‘“illegal building of settlements” which he maintained represented not only a change of facts on the ground “but continues to represent a continued and fundamental barrier to progress to securing a two-state solution.”
Illegal settlements were not only illegal, “they are immoral” because they represent “building on other people’s lands,” he said.