(A passer-by carries a Union Flag umbrella past a pro-Palestine demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament in London on Monday. Reuters)
The vote this week by the British Parliament to recognize a Palestinian state is being treated as a nonevent by diplomats in both Jerusalem and London. Though the margin of 274 to 12 was lopsided in favor of recognition, more than half the Parliament either abstained or didn’t show up. The nonbinding resolution will have no effect on Britain’s longstanding policy of recognizing a Palestinian state only in the context of an agreed two-state solution.
But symbolism can also be revealing. Some of the revelations came in comments by the MPs. Andrew Bridgen, a Tory, offered the view that the U.S. was “very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America.” David Ward, a Liberal Democrat, tweeted that he’d fire rockets at Israel if he were living in Gaza.
The mindset such statements betray speaks for itself. It is particularly disturbing after a summer that witnessed eruptions of anti-Semitic venom on Europe’s streets.
It also prompts the question of where these MPs get their news. Hamas began the war with indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, and the terror group continued it by routinely violating ceasefires agreed by Israel. If this elicited moral indignation by the pro-Palestinian MPs, we’re unaware of it.
Meanwhile, ISIS is at the gates of Baghdad and Bashar Assad continues to starve his enemies into submission—realities Palestinian statehood does nothing to fix. It’s been a long time since Britain’s voice counted in the Middle East, which may explain the recourse to meaningless gestures. Too bad even those gestures are wrong.