Hain’s one-state plan not Labour policy

By Marcus Dysch, February 6, 2014

Former Middle East Minister Peter Hain has been criticised by Labour colleagues for promoting a “one-state solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In a keynote address at Swansea University, the veteran MP said that after two decades of support he had become “increasingly unsure” whether a two-state outcome could be reached.

“For close to 70 years the cycle of violence and hatred has ripped the region apart. Stop-start negotiations to achieve a two-state solution… have led nowhere, despite the fact that a majority of both peoples (Palestinian and Israeli) continue publicly to support it,” Mr Hain said.

His shift in thinking was “mainly because… the land earmarked for a viable Palestinian state has been remorselessly occupied by Israeli settlers”.

Mr Hain compared the situation facing Israelis and Palestinians to that which had once faced the opposing sides in Northern Ireland.

He remained “uncertain” about a one-state outcome, but believed a solution to the Middle East conflict could ultimately be achieved.

“The window for an independent Palestinian state may be closing,” the former anti-apartheid campaigner warned, partly because “the land that has been hypothetically apportioned to a Palestinian state is looking vulnerable”.

A Labour spokesman said Mr Hain “does not speak for Labour on foreign affairs and his views on the Middle East peace process do not represent party policy”.

He said the party remained “fully committed” to a two-state solution and supported US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ongoing peace initiative.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander told a Labour Friends of Israel lunch last July that it was a “fantasy” to think one state could “ever be either sustainable or consistent with Israel’s democratic values”.

LFI chair Anne McGuire MP said Mr Hain was “of course entitled to his view”, but suggested the move in his position put him “in danger of undermining the state of Israel and the rights of its people, and telling the Palestinian people that their aspiration for a state and self-determination is to be ignored”.

Last updated: 12:36pm, February 6 2014