Lobbying Parliament on Palestine
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 28th November, 2007
Several members of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (LDFP) went to the House of Common this afternoon to see Acting Leader Vince Cable, as part of a mass lobby of parliament on Palestine. (Lord) David Steel would have joined us, but was instead whisked off to be interviewed by Sky TV. However, several of Vince’s Twickenham constituents joined in the meeting, after which some of us were also able to talk to the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, Michael Moore.
Ever since I first went to Israel/Palestine with David Steel over 20 years ago, I have followed events in the Middle East closely and share the despair of the Palestinians who see themselves no nearer a viable, independent Palestinian state now than they were then. In fact, given the increasing fragmentation of the West Bank as a direct result of illegal Israeli setlements and the roads that link them, the Wall, and the de facto seperation of Gaza from the West Bank with Hamas’s takeover of the former, a just settlement seems further away than ever. Whatever warm words come out of Annapolis, it is clear that the road ahead is long and stony.
As John McHugo, Chairman of LDFP, said in the meeting with Vince, too often both sides in the conflict have concentrated on their rights and the other’s obligations; the only way forward is for both to recognise both. The Quartet’s peace initiatives have so far achieved little, but they need to be reinvigorated — perhaps by the expansion to a ‘quintet’, with the inclusion of the Arab League, as recommended at the LibDems autumn conference. In the meantime, the world is not giving sufficient attention to the gravity and urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Britain, the EU and all other interested players need to address this issue immediately.