'Bid was right but Ed is wrong'

President Abbas after addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters on Friday

President Abbas after addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters on Friday

The Middle East peace process is riddled with contradictions and paradoxes.

It is always chastening to bear in mind, for example, that a two-state solution would result in a so-called "apartheid" Israel with a significant population of Arab citizens and a supposedly "free" Palestine without Jews.

In the UK political context, I now believe there is another paradox that liberal Britain should consider in the light of Douglas Alexander's letter to William Hague last week, urging him to back the bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN. Could it be that the Palestinian leadership is right to make its bid but that the UK Labour Party, meeting this week in Liverpool, is wrong to back it?

When I say the Palestinians are right, I mean to say that they are not wrong to try a new strategy. This has already pushed the issue to the top of the international agenda and forced countries, including the UK, to think very hard about where they really stand. It has focused minds. If the parties return to the negotiating table, who's to say that the Palestinian ruse will not have contributed?

The Labour Party’s stance has very little to do with the peace process

It may raise false hopes and it is, of course, no substitute for direct negotiations. It may prove to be an error in the long run: yet another dead-end. But even then, if the Palestinian Authority is to reach its ultimate goal of self-determination it must be allowed to make its own mistakes along the way.

So why was the Labour Party wrong to back the bid? Apart from anything else it was simply not statesmanlike to urge the UK government to vote for Palestinian statehood three days before any proposal was on the table.

As it happened, the UK government's decision not to declare its hand proved to be the right one. As we stand, there is no Palestinian resolution before the United Nations and no-one has yet been asked to vote on anything.

The truth is that the Labour Party's stance has very little to do with the plight of the Palestinian people or the Middle East peace process. The shift in policy was entirely for consumption within the Labour Party tribe. Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander wanted to signal a symbolic breach with the pro-Israel past of the New Labour era.

Once again, the Palestinian people have become the pawns in other people's political game.

The Middle East peace process is riddled with contradictions and paradoxes.

It is always chastening to bear in mind, for example, that a two-state solution would result in a so-called "apartheid" Israel with a significant population of Arab citizens and a supposedly "free" Palestine without Jews.

In the UK political context, I now believe there is another paradox that liberal Britain should consider in the light of Douglas Alexander's letter to William Hague last week, urging him to back the bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN. Could it be that the Palestinian leadership is right to make its bid but that the UK Labour Party, meeting this week in Liverpool, is wrong to back it?

When I say the Palestinians are right, I mean to say that they are not wrong to try a new strategy. This has already pushed the issue to the top of the international agenda and forced countries, including the UK, to think very hard about where they really stand. It has focused minds. If the parties return to the negotiating table, who's to say that the Palestinian ruse will not have contributed?

It may raise false hopes and it is, of course, no substitute for direct negotiations. It may prove to be an error in the long run: yet another dead-end. But even then, if the Palestinian Authority is to reach its ultimate goal of self-determination it must be allowed to make its own mistakes along the way.

So why was the Labour Party wrong to back the bid? Apart from anything else it was simply not statesmanlike to urge the UK government to vote for Palestinian statehood three days before any proposal was on the table.

As it happened, the UK government's decision not to declare its hand proved to be the right one. As we stand, there is no Palestinian resolution before the United Nations and no-one has yet been asked to vote on anything.

The truth is that the Labour Party's stance has very little to do with the plight of the Palestinian people or the Middle East peace process. The shift in policy was entirely for consumption within the Labour Party tribe. Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander wanted to signal a symbolic breach with the pro-Israel past of the New Labour era.

Once again, the Palestinian people have become the pawns in other people's political game.

The Middle East peace process is riddled with contradictions and
paradoxes.

It is always chastening to bear in mind, for example, that a two-state solution would result in a so-called "apartheid" Israel with a significant population of Arab citizens and a supposedly "free" Palestine without Jews.

In the UK political context, I now believe there is another paradox that liberal Britain should consider in the light of Douglas Alexander's letter to William Hague last week, urging him to back the bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN. Could it be that the Palestinian leadership is right to make its bid but that the UK Labour Party, meeting this week in Liverpool, is wrong to back it?

When I say the Palestinians are right, I mean to say that they are not wrong to try a new strategy. This has already pushed the issue to the top of the international agenda and forced countries, including the UK, to think very hard about where they really stand. It has focused minds. If the parties return to the negotiating table, who's to say that the Palestinian ruse will not have contributed?

It may raise false hopes and it is, of course, no substitute for direct negotiations. It may prove to be an error in the long run: yet another dead-end. But even then, if the Palestinian Authority is to reach its ultimate goal of self-determination it must be allowed to make its own mistakes along the way.

So why was the Labour Party wrong to back the bid? Apart from anything else it was simply not statesmanlike to urge the UK government to vote for Palestinian statehood three days before any proposal was on the table.

As it happened, the UK government's decision not to declare its hand proved to be the right one. As we stand, there is no Palestinian resolution before the United Nations and no-one has yet been asked to vote on anything.

The truth is that the Labour Party's stance has very little to do with the plight of the Palestinian people or the Middle East peace process. The shift in policy was entirely for consumption within the Labour Party tribe. Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander wanted to signal a symbolic breach with the pro-Israel past of the New Labour era.

Once again, the Palestinian people have become the pawns in other people's political game.

Last updated: 1:14pm, September 27 2011