Immediate recognition of Palestine


In November 2019 we lobbied the three main political parties to include immediate recognition of the State of Palestine in their 2019 manifestos. The three parties have different positions now, so our lobbying letters to them differed accordingly.

Labour had clear support for immediate recognition in its 2017 manifesto. We said they should retain the commitment now.

The Liberal Democrats adopted a policy on support of international law, which included a commitment to immediate recognition of Palestine, but that was adopted after their 2017 manifesto was published and is not in it.  We said they should include the commitment in their 2019 manifesto.

The Conservative policy (which is also government policy) is “recognition of Palestine should come at the time when that is in the best interests of the prospects for peace and the peace process.” We argued that is counter-productive because it conditions recognition on the negotiated “peace process”. That allows right-wing Israeli governments to believe they can continue to frustrate agreement along the internationally legitimate parameters without losing the support of influential countries like the UK.

Recognising Palestinian statehood is not a substitute for negotiations with Israel. Rather it will put right-wing Israeli governments on notice that the international community will not indefinitely tolerate Israel’s continuing refusal to accept the international parameters for resolving the conflict. It will also put the negotiations on a fairer basis by reducing the extreme imbalance of power that has characterised them thus far.

Our letter to the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State is below.

Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Foreign Secretary                                   4 November 2019

Rt Hon Dr Andrew Murrison MP, Minister of State

Dear Mr. Raab and Dr. Murrison,

I am writing to ask you to make it government policy to support early recognition of the state of Palestine by including it in the Conservative manifesto. We believe the current policy that “recognition of Palestine should come at the time when that is in the best interests of the prospects for peace and the peace process.” is counter-productive.  Conditioning recognition on the negotiated “peace process” allows right-wing Israeli governments to believe they can continue to frustrate agreement along the internationally legitimate parameters, without losing the support of influential countries like the UK.

Israel has objected to Palestine being recognised as a state, supposedly because this should be an outcome of negotiations. That is a self-serving argument in its interest of continuing the occupation. Israel’s intention is clear from the expanding settlement project in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, now home to approximately 600,000 settlers.

Neither the settlements nor the continuing occupation give Israel a right of veto over Palestinian self-determination. The settlements have always been illegal under international law. The occupation has become illegal because of its duration and Israel’s self-evident intention to retain large parts of the occupied land.

The essence of the issue of recognition is that the Palestinians have a right to self-determination no less than Israelis right to it. The State of Israel is legitimate, but only within the 1967 borders. Both the legitimacy and territorial limitation are well established. The corollary is that the legitimacy of the Palestinians’ claim to a state in all the rest of British Mandate Palestine, i.e. the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, is also well established. This was confirmed in 2012 by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s upgrading to “Observer State” status in the United Nations, based on the 1967 borders,

Both the World Bank and the IMF reported in 2011 that Palestine’s institutions were ready for statehood. The British government accepted that judgement. Palestine has the attributes and functioning institutions of a state, except as Israel is preventing the  exercise of Palestinian sovereignty by its continuing occupation and settlement project. Britain has already accepted Palestine’s right to statehood by virtue of supporting the two-state solution. 134 countries have already recognised the Palestinian state. Great Britain should now join them. As an influential country, that alone would bring other Western countries to do the same.

Recognising Palestinian statehood is not a substitute for negotiations with Israel. Rather it will put right-wing Israeli governments on notice that the international community will not indefinitely tolerate Israel’s continuing refusal to accept the international parameters for resolving the conflict. It will also put the negotiations on a fairer basis by reducing the extreme imbalance of power that has  characterised them thus far.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur Goodman

Diplomatic and Parliamentary Liaison Officer

© Copyright JFJFP 2021