In a spectacular display of ignorance, moral illiteracy and malice, Britain’s House of Commons this week unwittingly resurrected the specter of its own historical perfidy towards the Jewish people.
By 274 votes to 12, MPs voted to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”
Most MPs didn’t turn up for the vote at all. In the Middle East, it will make no difference on the ground. The prime minister, David Cameron, who abstained, says it won’t alter British government policy “to recognize a Palestinian state at the moment of our choosing,” whatever that means. So does it matter? Yes. Mahmoud Abbas is using unilateral recognition of “Palestine” as a weapon of war to isolate and choke Israel to death.
The Commons vote may encourage other countries to follow suit. It also threatens to deepen the Middle East conflict.
To head off a damaging split in the Labor Party, the motion was amended to support Palestine recognition “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”
But a state of Palestine cannot precede a two-state solution. It has to be negotiated into existence, not least because of the evidence that its real purpose is as a beachhead to destroy Israel.
Unilaterally declaring a Palestine state tears up the Oslo treaty committing both sides to such a negotiation, thus destroying the peace process by its own lights.
Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly said (in Arabic) that the Palestinians will never accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. His Palestinian Authority glorifies those who murder Israelis, and teaches Palestinian children to hate and kill Jews.
Not just Hamas but Abbas’s Fatah threatens to exterminate Israel. Last year, Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi declared on PA TV that “the two-state solution does not exist,” that Palestine included Israeli cities such as Haifa, Jaffa and Acre, and that “not a centimeter of Jerusalem will be liberated unless every grain of Palestinian soil is soaked in the blood of its brave people.”
These are the people the MPs declared have a “right” to a state.
Moreover, in current circumstances if Israel were to depart the West Bank it would be overrun by Hamas or other Islamists, maybe even Islamic State. This is what the UK Parliament has now so warmly endorsed.
For Israel this vote, while troublesome, hardly competes with the myriad terrifying dangers on its doorstep. True, there are concerns about the threat of economic or diplomatic isolation.
But Britain and Europe need Israel. Economic ties between them have never been stronger. Britain regards its close intelligence and military links with Israel as essential to its defenses – increasingly so as the rest of the Middle East descends into Islamist and anti-Western terrorist chaos.
What is so dismaying, indeed sickening, is what this vote says about Britain. Parliament has endorsed an agenda which should be anathema to all decent people.
MPs have endorsed a racist Palestine state ethnically cleansed of Jews, encouraged Palestinian rejectionism, and put rocket fuel behind the Israel-bashing and Jew-hatred provoked by the unprecedented demonization of Israel based on lies, distortion and bigotry.
Blaming Israel for its own victimization – endorsed so shallowly and treacherously by the Israeli Left – the MPs ignored the fact that the sole reason there is no Palestine state alongside Israel is that the Arabs won’t accept it.
Jews and Israelis agreed to or even themselves proposed such a state in 1937, 1948, 2000 and 2008. The Arab and Palestinian answer has always been terrorism and war. Israel would accept a Palestine state tomorrow if the Palestinians showed they really had abandoned their goal of exterminating Israel. The problem is that they have not.
All this was ignored in a debate marked by stupefying levels of ignorance and fantasy laced with malice. This went well beyond the usual suspects on the Left. The speech by the Foreign Office minister, Tobias Ellwood, was mostly about relieving the suffering of Gaza, with a mere nod to the “unacceptable barrage of rockets from Hamas and other militant groups” against Israel.
There was no mention of Abbas’s rejectionism; instead, harsh words against the settlements policy which apparently “makes it hard for its friends to make the case that Israel is committed to peace.” Why? Surely only for those who believe a precondition of peace is the ethnic cleansing of Jews from a state of Palestine. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Israel-bashers have seized on the contribution by Sir Richard Ottaway, the Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, who said that although he was a long-standing supporter of Israel the recent “annexation” of land in the Etzion bloc “outraged me more than anything else in my political life.”
What? More outraged than over the thousands of rockets from Gaza deliberately targeting Israeli civilians for mass murder? More outraged than over the chemical attacks in Syria, or the beheading of hostages by Islamic State? And all this over land which belonged to no one and was not annexed at all, merely declared “state land” as Israel is legally entitled to do and which does not change its ownership in any way.
As Ottoway suggested, the tide of British anti-Israel feeling is certainly rising at a terrifying rate. But this is not through Israel’s actions but because of the kind of woeful ignorance and moral perversity he himself displayed in the debate – and which erupted during this past dreadful summer, when Hamas blood libels promulgated by a compliant media incited an explosion of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred.
With this vote, Britain has reverted to historic type. In Mandatory Palestine, it tried to destroy its own (never abrogated) legal obligation to settle Jews in what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Instead it stopped Jewish immigration during the Holocaust and, in response to pogroms against the Jews carried out by the Nazi-affiliated Arabs of Palestine, offered them a state of their own.
Now its MPs have voted to legitimize that state’s successor, this time part-governed by an internationally designated terrorist outfit bent on the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jews and signed up to the same Islamic jihad pledged to destroy Britain and the West.
The vote merely confirms that, with its fragmenting national identity, cultural disintegration and moral confusion, Britain is now the weakest link in the defense of civilization.Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times (UK).