The UK’s vote to recognize Palestine as a state is another empty gesture. You can judge the significance at least in part by the low key reception it got on the Guardian site, the biggest pro Palestinian (allegedly) drum thumper there is. However, there will be consequences.
First, although it is meaningless, expect several pro Palestinian activists to agitate and make ridiculous propaganda statements about the vote, to try and use it as leverage to keep the issue in the public eye and Israel at the center of unwanted attention.
Second, if anyone in the Israeli government is paying attention, they will surely take on board some of the criticism from former supporters of Israel. The Guardian highlights Richard Ottaway’s contribution. Whether it is as they describe, his comments are notable:
In possibly the single most important contribution in an emotional debate, Richard Ottaway, the Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, said the recent annexation of West Bank land by the Israeli government had angered him like nothing else in politics.
The Conservative MP said he had been a supporter of the state of Israel before he became a Tory and had close family connections with the generation that formed the Israeli state. He explained: “The Holocaust had a deep impact on me growing up in the wake of the second world war,” adding that he had been a strong supporter of Israel in the six day war and subsequent conflicts.
He told MPs: “Looking back over the past 20 years, I realise now Israel has slowly been 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. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.”
He said he was not yet convinced that Palestine was fit to be a state due to its refusal to recognise Israel, adding that “in normal circumstances” he would have opposed the motion. But, he said, “such is my anger with the behaviour of Israel in recent months that I will not be opposing this motion. I have to say to the government of Israel: if it is losing people like me, it is going to be losing a lot of people.”
I think Mr Ottaway is wrong, and is even more of a fool for falling for the sheep like line of least resistance. But, and this is where one has to be fair to Mr Ottaway, it would appear to highlight the key issue that Israeli diplomacy has failed at. It doesn’t matter if the settlement on Judeah and Samaria is less than 2%, or that it’s all open for negotiation, if people like Ottaway do not know that, see that, understand that, and say that.
Now, I have this fear that the hierarchy of the Israeli government and diplomacy crew do not care enough. But they should. This episode, if nothing else, is gold plated feedback.
Finally, check out this report about Sweden’s recognition. What a bunch of hypocrites!