I hate to rain on a parade but I don’t quite understand why everyone is getting so excited over the UK parliament’s recognition of Palestine as a state, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
Certainly it was gratifying to hear so many MPs criticise Israel yesterday during the six-hour House of Commons debate, especially for its settlement policies on stolen land.
And it was also wonderful to see so many Israeli apologists up-in-arms over the motion which was passed by a resounding 274 votes to 12.
But ultimately the issue is not about the “state of Palestine,” it’s about what kind of state that state will be.
And anyone who followed the debate closely would realise that nearly all of the MPs were supporting the discredited “two-state solution” which effectively means that Israel gets to keep over 80 per cent of the land forever, while the Palestinians have to make do with a de-militarised open prison that will be dependent on Israeli largesse.
Most Palestinians I spoke to yesterday before the vote wanted it to pass.
The Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, told me that Britain was at last taking some responsibility for the historic wrongs it had committed against his people.
It was Britain, after all, who held a mandate over Palestine before the Zionists stole the land and ethnically cleansed it. And Britain has been one of the biggest international supporters of the Zionist state since.
Hassassian argued that the international community should continue to pressure Israel as there will never be a military solution to the conflict. He said he hoped the vote would spark other such motions across the EU until Palestinians achieve their goal of a viable state.
Meanwhile, British Muslim groups also welcomed the Yes vote.
Ismail Patel of The Friends of Al Aqsa, said: “The Labour Party asked MPs to vote in favour of the motion, while the Lib Dem and Conservative parties allowed members to vote freely.
FOA believes this is an indication of each party’s commitment to Palestinian freedom, although the vote was symbolic.
“This vote is not about one state or two states, it is not about borders, and it is not about refugees; this vote is a simple recognition of the Palestinian right to self-determination, which has been denied to them by a military invasion and occupation since 1948 and 1967 respectively.”
But despite the temptation to celebrate the vote as some sort of Palestinian victory, I think we need to put things into perspective.
This wasn’t a vote about how the UK arms Israel. And it wasn’t a vote about how Britain does roaring business with Tel Aviv while it commits its atrocities. Those would have been great subjects for a debate but they simply weren’t on the agenda.
Rather, this was simply a symbolic motion that the government can completely ignore if it chooses to do.
It is also quite possible that the government was happy for the motion to pass because that way they can:
1) placate public opinion which is infuriated with Israel after its Gaza massacre
2) put some mild pressure on an Israeli regime which is completely out of control.
The fact remains that the vast majority of those who voted for the motion are supportive of Israel to one extent or another, and that support won’t end anytime soon even though some mild criticism may be directed Tel Aviv’s way every now and again.
As for the two-state solution, it’s difficult to find anyone in Palestine who really believes in it anymore, apart from those who materially benefit from the “two-state solution industry.”
More generally, the notion that the international community – which is at least partially responsible for the Palestinians’ plight – will be their saviour is frankly ridiculous.
Only Palestinians can save themselves along with a regional alliance which will support them – politically, financially and militarily.
Roshan Muhammed Salih is the Editor of British Muslim news website 5Pillarz.com. He can be reached at @RMSalih