Comparing policies 2015: Where do the parties stand on Palestine?

Part of a series which compares how the main Westminster parties approach particular issues ahead of May’s election.

Historically, Palestine referred to the land which now comprises the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Israel in between. What remains of Palestine is militarily occupied by Israel, whose forces control Palestine’s borders, airspace, and coastline. The Gaza Strip currently languishes under an economic blockade imposed by Israel which severely limits Palestinians’ access to basic goods and services.

Last year, Israel launched a military offensive against the Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired into Israel by Hamas. That military offensive, Operation Protective Edge, killed over 2,000 Palestinian civilians (500 of them children), injured nearly 10,000, and destroyed countless homes.

What remains of Palestine is not currently an internationally recognized state, with only 69% of UN member states recognizing it as an independent entity. In recent years, the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement and other organizations have called for an end to the occupation of Palestine, a resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and an eventual two-state or one-state solution.

The Conservative Party: During Operation Protective Edge, Prime Minister David Cameron blamed Hamas for initiating the violence, reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks, reiterated his staunch support for Israel, but expressed concern about the high number of civilian casualties that resulted from Israel’s actions, and called on both sides to de-escalate the violence. [Source]

In the 2014 Parliament vote to symbolically recognize the State of Palestine, six Tory MPs voted against the measure, some voted yea, and many abstained. [Source]

From the manifesto:

  • “[We will] support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, robustly defending the right of Israel to protect its security, while continuing to condemn illegal settlement building, which undermines the prospects for peace” (pg. 76)

Progressive-o-meter rating: 1.

The Labour Party: During Operation Protective Edge, Ed Miliband described the destruction on Israel’s part as “unacceptable and unjustifiable”, and criticized David Cameron’s response to the bloodshed as being too ambivalent. Miliband later clarified his statements in front of a Jewish voter and declared himself a “friend of Israel”. In the same meeting, Miliband said he did not question Israel’s right to exist, but questioned the IDFs heavy-handed response. [Source]

In the 2014 Parliament vote to symbolically recognize the State of Palestine, many Labour MPs voted for the measure, none voted nay, and some abstained. [Source]

From the manifesto:

  • “We remain committed to a comprehensive two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a viable and independent state of Palestine. There can be no military solution to this conflict and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution” (pg. 75)

Progressive-o-meter rating: 4.

The Liberal Democrats: During Operation Protective Edge, Nick Clegg called Israel’s actions a “disproportionate form of collective punishment” which would lead to a truly unimaginable humanitarian crisis. Clegg reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself, but claimed that “so many thousands of people are suffering” in the Gaza Strip. Clegg also called for the UK government to halt all arms exports to Israel [Source] [Source]

In the 2014 Parliament vote to symbolically recognize the State of Palestine, one Lib Dem MP voted against the measure, some voted for, and some abstained. [Source]

From the manifesto:

  • “[We] remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes a two-state solution. We condemn disproportionate force used by all sides. We condemn Hamas’ rocket attacks and other targeting of Israeli civilians. We condemn Israel’s continued illegal policy of settlement expansion, which undermines the possibility of a two state solution. We support recognition of the independent State of Palestine as and when it will help the prospect of a two-state solution” (pg. 145)

Progressive-o-meter rating: 5.

The UK Independence Party: During Operation Protective Edge, UKIP representatives remained silent on the bloodshed, but Nigel Farage has in the past painted himself as a staunch ally of Israel. A former UKIP Parliamentary candidate recently called for the extradition of Obama to Israel. [Source] [Source]

In the 2014 Parliament vote to symbolically recognize the State of Palestine, UKIP had no representation in Parliament.

From the manifesto:

  • “We want to see a peaceful, two-state solution in Israel and the Palestinian territories” (pg. 67)

Progressive-o-meter rating: 1.

The Green PartyDuring Operation Protective Edge, the Green Party spokesperson on International Affairs Shahrar Ali expressed “shock and dismay” at the assault on Gaza, and claimed that Israel’s offensive “constitutes an act of collective punishment on the people of Gaza. Women and children are made to suffer and die, indiscriminately – this cannot go on” [Source]

She continued “The Green Party recognises the historic injustice suffered by the Palestinian people through displacement and continued oppression to the present day. The desperate situation of the Palestine Occupied Territories is man-made and can and must be undone – in accordance with international law. Let us together renew our zeal for peaceable solutions” [Source]

In the 2014 Parliament vote to symbolically recognize the State of Palestine, the only Green MP Caroline Lucas voted for the measure. [Source]

From the manifesto:

  • “Keith Taylor is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to Palestine and has visited the Occupied Territories. As part of his work, Keith has called for Israel to end its practice of detaining Palestinians without charge, and has supported his constituents in boycott campaigns relating to goods made in illegal Israeli settlements. Keith has long campaigned for the recognition of Palestine and has put his name to a successful Resolution calling on the European Parliament to recognize Palestine as a state” (pg. 71)

Progressive-o-meter rating: 9.

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