Today in Parliament, MPs are voting on a backbench motion (supported by a one-line whip from the Labour party) proposing that Britain recognises Palestine as a state. The motion attempts push a new status quo on Israel-Palestine, without the agreement of the partners on the ground.
This is not just an arrogant move, it is a pointless one – not least because the Cameron government has already said it will ignore the vote. What is of concern, however, is that the whole move displays a startling degree of naivety in Westminster.
At the same time as the West has declared war on Isis, it is odd for British MPs to be publicising their intention to support the exponents of another caliphate – one centred on the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian ‘state’ that MPs are being asked to recognise consists of a ‘unity government’ – albeit a fractious one – between the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas; and the terrorist group Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood).
Just how long this ‘unity government’ will last is anyone’s guess. In 2007, Hamas ejected the PA from Gaza by a variety of their traditional means, including shooting their opponents in the backs and throwing others off tall buildings. Hamas aspires to do the same in the West Bank. As recently as August 2014, Abbas accused Hamas of smuggling money and ammunition into the West Bank to stage a coup against the PA. This is the state that the House of Commons is trying to wish into existence.
But this is not purely a problem for Palestinians or Israelis. It is a regional and indeed a global problem. A senior Hamas official, Mahmoud al-Zahar, explained in a 2010 speech the Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas goal:
‘Our enterprise extends far beyond Palestine: Palestine in its entirety, the Arab nation in its entirety, the Islamic nation in its entirety, and the entire world.’