Friday, October 17, 2014

Britain's Moral Responsibility for Palestine

Just imagine the following scenario in our own heavily rambammed, Israeli-occupied Federal Parliament:

"Yesterday the British Parliament voted overwhelmingly (274-12) to recognize a Palestinian state, and if you listened to the debate, one theme above all explains the crushing victory: The British public has been horrified by Gaza and its opinion of Israel has shifted. Even Conservative members of Parliament cited pressure from the public. As Labour's Andy Slaughter said, Britain has witnessed a new 'barbarism': I think British people have been on the same sort of journey as the right hon. Member for Croydon South [Conservative Sir Richard Ottaway] described - it is certainly true of the Labour movement - from being very sympathetic to Israel as a country that was trying to achieve democracy and was embattled, to seeing it now as a bully and a regional superpower. That is not something I say with any pleasure, but since the triumph of military Zionism and the Likud-run Governments we have seen a new barbarism in that country. Slaughter and a fellow Labour member, Kate Green, said that just as the British Parliament sent a message to Obama a year ago in voting to oppose the Conservative Prime Minister on attacking Syria, a vote Obama heeded in reversing course on a Syria attack, today the British Parliament aims to influence US policy on Palestine..." (British Parliament sends a message to Obama: the people see Israel as a 'bully', Philip Weiss,, 14/10/14)

Excerpts from the many pro-Palestine speeches given in that debate can be read at, and I urge you to do so. And as you read, wonder at the yawning moral and intellectual chasm which clearly separates these MPs from their Australian counterparts.

What particularly interested me were those MPs who acknowledged Britain's historic responsibility for the plight of the Palestinian people by citing Britain's infamous anti-Palestinian Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised to 'view with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.' Those MPs did something quite rare in contemporary public discourse on the Palestine/Israel issue - namely, call into question, even if only in the most tentative fashion, the wisdom of the near 100-year-old decision that led eventually to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. By doing so they, in effect, lifted the lid on the origins of the most enduring crime of British colonialism. (See in particular my posts Britain, It's Time to Apologize (17/1/13) and Manifesto of All People of Good Conscience (12/11/13).)  

Grahame Morris, Labour: "As the originator of the Balfour Declaration and holder of the mandate for Palestine, Britain has a unique historical connection and, arguably, a moral responsibility to the people of both Israel and Palestine. In 1920, we undertook a sacred trust - a commitment to guide Palestinians to statehood and independence. That was nearly a century ago, and the Palestinian people are still to have their national rights recognised. This sacred trust has been neglected for far too long. As the hon. Lady has just said, we have an historic opportunity to atone for that neglect, and take this small but symbolically important step... It is now more than 20 years since the Oslo accords, and we are further away from peace than ever before. An entire generation of young Palestinians - the Oslo generation - has grown up to witness a worsening situation on the ground. We have seen a significant expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, heightened security threats to both sides, punitive restrictions on Palestinian movement, economic decline, a humanitarian crisis in Gaza of catastrophic proportions and the construction of an illegal annexation wall through Palestinian land. It is clear that both Israel-Palestine relations and our foreign policy are at an impasse, which must be broken..."

Nicholas Soames, Conservative: "This House should need no reminding of the terms of the Balfour Declaration, which rightly endorsed 'the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people' but went on to add that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.' Ninety-seven years later, the terms of the Balfour Declaration are clearly not upheld with respect to the Palestinians, and in Britain that should weigh very heavily upon us indeed."

David Ward, Liberal Democrat: "Israel is in breach of the contract set out in the Balfour Declaration stating that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' In the light of the Nakba and everything since, that seems like a sick joke. The failure of the international community to recognise the state of Palestine has helped Israel to ignore this commitment."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the terms and conditions have not been met it follows that the Balfour Declaration is therefore null and void.

Who are the British to make a gift of the property of one party to a another unrelated party?

Australia occupied Papua-New Guinea following World War One. The League of Nations 'gave' Australia a so called 'mandate'.

Could Australia, in the case of Papua-New Guinea, allow a third party, under the protection of arms, to impose themselves in numbers, take over and then expell the locals?

Then call the local population 'terrorists' if they object.