I am pleased to confirm that I voted for the principle of recognition of Palestinian statehood.
The Labour Party had already supported the principle of recognising statehood for the Palestinians, saying that "statehood is not a gift to be given, but a right to be recognised". In 2011 we called on the UK government to support the Palestinian bid for recognition at the United Nations, and we further supported the Palestinian bid for ‘enhanced observer status' at the UN General Assembly. In 2011, we also welcomed the progress made by the Palestinian Authority on their work in building the institutions of statehood. But the Palestinian people have continued to be denied the fundamental rights and freedoms associated with that status.
Achieving a lasting solution in the Middle East will, of course, have to be based on negotiations between Palestine and Israel - negotiations which address vital issues of security, economic viability and much more. However, support for recognition is, in my view, a contribution to the prospects of securing the two state solution - "not a means of by-passing talks but a bridge for restarting them". It has never been the case that recognition can only follow the conclusion of negotiations - a fact accepted in the 2002 Roadmap discussions.
I support two states living side by side in peace and security - an end to the rocket attacks on Israel, the blockade of Gaza and the illegal settlement building in the West Bank. But as things currently, and depressingly stand, there is no meaningful peace process. The latest war in Gaza, together with the annexation of another 1000 acres of the West Bank for more settlement building have added to the sense of paralysis. That in turn feeds despair and disillusionment with the political option and risks trapping both Israel and Palestine into a continuing cycle of violence and insecurity. We, and the wider international community, must strengthen the position of those Palestinians pursuing a diplomatic process, and that means progress towards statehood.
The motion we voted for does not mandate the UK government to immediately unilaterally recognise the state of Palestine, but it does affirm Labour's support for the principle of Palestinian statehood, and as such I was very pleased to vote for it.
Karen Buck MP