WATCH: Recogntion of Palestine – Full Speech


Full text:

Like others I think this is a hopeful day, and a day to celebrate. I was working in Palestine in 2014 when Sweden recognised the Palestinian state. I witnessed first-hand the hope and joy of the Palestinians around me, with Swedish flags appearing on taxis and everywhere. It was a celebration. It was a moment when they felt their struggle was recognised and seen, and that people were standing beside them. I know our recognition can give that same hope. The fact that it has been done with Spain and Norway adds to it all the more. This is an important moment of hope. Hope is absolutely needed now because in many ways the situation appears to be completely hopeless. We have an intransigent Israeli Government. As was said earlier in this House by several speakers, it is the most right-wing government in the history of that state. We have seen relentless settlement building, creating new facts on the ground and utterly eroding the Palestinian state we are here to recognise and try to protect. We also see state-sponsored and supported violence from the settlers in those settlements that further puts pressure on Palestinians. That leads to Palestinians being driven out of their homes and villages as they are attacked and burned by armed settlers escorted and supported by the Israeli Defense Forces. Again, this is very much a deliberate policy of the government to remove Palestinians from their land. There is ongoing forced transfer and ongoing demolition of homes and villages. Without firm and strong action, places like Masafer Yatta, Arab al-Jahalin and Khan al-Ahmar will join places like Deir Yassin and Zeitoun that have been wiped off the map by the Israeli Government. They are nothing but ghost villages and towns that have been utterly destroyed and their residents massacred. Recognition is an incredibly important step to push back against that hopelessness, and to show the Palestinians we stand with them and support them. However, it is just a first step. We need to do more to put pressure on the Israeli Government. We need to do more to put pressure on the government to ensure international law is enforced. Without a fair and just solution based firmly on human rights and international law, there is no hope for the region. We need to support international law as part of a diplomatic solution in a quest for justice. If Israel is ignoring that, and ignoring the ICJ and the ICC, we, as a State that stands up for international law, have a responsibility to ensure the judgments of the ICC and ICJ are enforced, made real and made meaningful.

We do need to see boycott, divestment and sanctions and the occupied territories Bill. I know advice from the Attorney General says that Bill is illegal and could not pass, but that is just advice. Legal advice only becomes legal fact in front of a judge, so let us pass the occupied territories Bill, go to Luxembourg and the Court of Justice of the European Union, CJEU, and defend it, because it will do nothing more than make real our commitments that we already have under international law. It is designed to fit perfectly into European Union law and to make real international law such that occupations everywhere will not be supported, and that is an incredibly important step. It is the next step we must take, beyond recognition, to ensure we will push back against the Israeli Government’s agenda and actions here. While what we are seeing in Rafah and Gaza is horrendous, heartbreaking and appalling, when the bombs stop falling and the hostages are released, the occupation will still be there and we need to be aware of that and to keep fighting against the occupation, even beyond this horrific current stage of violence.