Labour will recognise a Palestinian state, pledges Thornberry

The shadow foreign secretary expresses party's commitment at event marking Balfour centenary


 Britain must recognise Palestinian statehood without preconditions as part of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, according to a group of MPs and religious leaders.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, criticised the government for “not being prepared to recognise a Palestinian state. She said: “If they don’t do it then you can believe the next Labour government will.

“It is time for Britain to step up. There are extremists on both sides blocking the process.”

“Whilst we reflect on the centenary we need to look to the future.

“Do we want generations of Israelis growing up with car-rammings, knife attacks, or Palestinian youth facing 58 per cent unemployment?”

Layla Moran, the first MP of Palestinian heritage, said: “There is strong cross-party consensus on that now and we have to do it without preconditions.” 

The Liberal Democrat MP said she was hopeful about peace in the region and believed recognising Palestine was the start. “Britain has a significant role to play and we cannot delegate to the Americans on this,” she said. “I believe in Israel’s right to exist and we need to encourage people to get around the negotiating table. You can’t do that if you refuse to recognise one side.”

The MPs were speaking at an event entitled “Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a New Approach”, which according to its organisers, the Balfour Project, was not intended as a celebration of the centenary.

Reverend Christopher Chessun, the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, said a workable solution for the Israelis and the Palestinians was not possible without “recognition of two states.

“The Balfour Declaration envisaged two communities living and co-existing peacefully.” He said the centenary should be marked by Britain “by recognising a Palestinian state”. Both Israelis and Palestinians deserved security, he said. “The Hamas path of violence and aggression is not the answer.”

Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism, said he would mark the centenary with “some thanks, some pride and some hope.

“I cherish with pride the modern Israel, yet at the same time I’m conscious this is not paralleled in the realities of all peoples in the region, who still don’t have equal rights.” 

Around 1200 people attended the event at the Methodist Central Hall, in Westminster on Tuesday. 

The Balfour Project is a charity set up “to promote justice, security and peace for Israelis and Palestinians”.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive