LFPME hosted a fringe debate ‘The future for a Palestinian State’ at the Labour Party Conference 2011. The event was extremely well attended with 280 guests and another 150 having to be turned away.
The debate was chaired by Mehdi Hasan (New Statesman) and the panelists were Dr Husam Zomlot (Fatah International relations via Skype link up to New York), John McCarthy OBE, Ben Bradshaw MP, Arlene McCarthy MEP, Richard Burden MP and Fady Abusidu.
In his statement and Q&A session Dr Zomlot said the UN bid was ‘a stress test for the nation’ and a ‘roadmap to peace’ which is based on international law and international resolutions. He said that the path ahead was “very clear and that there will not be peace in that part of the world without addressing our genuine grievances and injustice.”
Richard Burden MP spoke of the grinding humiliation of the occupation of Palestine. He said “the recognition of the Israeli state is not just a result of negotiations, but also a precondition for negotiations to resume. Well if that is the case for the Israelis, have not the Palestinians got the same right to say to us if it’s a precondition for the Israelis why do we have fewer rights, why is our recognition a privilege when theirs is a right.”
John McCarthy OBE reminded the audience that the Palestinians have been waiting for a state for 63 years, which was promised to them in 1948 at the same time the State of Israel was declared. He said the “Palestinians really do now deserve for us to appreciate what they have been going through, what they continue to go through and to try and work out a way forward that will give them a viable state.”
Arlene McCarthy MEP spoke of a survey covering 19 countries, where 20,000 people voted 49% in favour of a Palestinian state and only 21% against; even in the USA 45% voted in favour and 36% against the recognition of Palestine at the UN. She urged the governments of the EU and the USA listen to the public and vote yes to ensure peace and justice in the region.
Ben Bradshaw MP warned that “time was running out for a two state solution” and that it was “becoming really difficult to see how East Jerusalem could become a viable capital of a Palestinian state with the settlements encroaching and cutting off the West Bank from East Jerusalem.”
He said he felt “embarrassed as a progressive politician with the approach that the current administration in the US has taken. He said President Obama blinked over settlements and he “believed the Americans are making a very serious error of judgement if they go ahead and veto a bid for statehood.”
Fady Abusidu from Fatah UK, sister party to Labour party, said (President Abbas) through the bid ‘promoted an alternative discourse……an alternative course of action which was gaining popularity and support in the streets of Palestine. It touched on the emotions and feelings of all Palestinians and all Arabs and all people who were promoting democracy in the Middle East.” He added that the “Palestinian struggle will continue to be peaceful, as part of this new discourse.”
The full debate will be available on our YouTube channel soon.
To view photos from conference, please click here.