Quote For The Day

“I have stood by Israel through thick and thin, through the good years and the bad. I have sat down with Ministers and senior Israeli politicians and urged peaceful negotiations and a proportionate response to prevarication, and I thought that they were listening. But I realise now, in truth, looking back over the past 20 years, that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life, mainly because it makes me look a fool, and that is something that I resent.

Turning to the substantive motion, to be a friend of Israel is not to be an enemy of Palestine. I want them to find a way through, and I am delighted by yesterday’s reconstruction package for Gaza, but with a country that is fractured with internal rivalries, that shows such naked hostility to its neighbour, that attacks Israel by firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately, that risks the lives of its citizens through its strategic placing of weapons and that uses the little building material that it is allowed to bring in to build tunnels, rather than homes, I am not yet convinced that it is fit to be a state and should be recognised only when there is a peace agreement. Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behaviour in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people,” – Richard Ottaway, conservative MP, Westminster.

The non-binding vote in the Commons to recognize a Palestinian state was overwhelming – 274 – 12. I hope it leads to more and more countries taking this position – because all other avenues to prevent or stall the grotesque and relentless attempt to annex all the land once inhabited by Palestinians – and to treat an entire people as anathema – have failed. There is no dialogue with the Israeli government on all these issues; there is simply a monologue from the Israelis to the rest of us. I feel exactly as the Tory MP feels: this has gone on long enough. If enough European parliaments take this position, maybe even the US Congress will budge from its current position that Israel can never be criticized. But I doubt it.