Recognising Palestine

by Joseph Hearn and Daniel Mautner

Our project aims to engage with parliamentarians to understand their misgivings about immediate recognition of Palestinian statehood by the British government. Secondly, we wish to research these misgivings, in light of the likely implications of immediate UK recognition of Palestinian statehood. This will help inform parliamentarians about whether immediate recognition of Palestinian statehood is a helpful step towards a just, secure, and sustainable peace for Israel and Palestine. This research will focus on human rights, trade, security, international law, and diplomatic legitimacy. Related to this, we will engage with organisations and parliamentarians from the EU, to understand potential opportunities for the UK to lead or act alongside European neighbours in its policy towards Palestinian statehood. Throughout, we will combine empirical research with more personal narratives, in order to build a full picture of the potential effects of immediate recognition.

This project is based upon two foundations of the Balfour Project: that Britain should honour its historic commitments to both Israelis and Palestinians; and that both Palestinians and Israelis should be able to live in peace and security according with their rights to self-determination. 

Since the Madrid and Oslo negotiations of the early 1990s, prospects of a ‘two-state solution’ in the Israel-Palestine conflict have largely stalled. However, realistic options for peaceful and sustainable resolutions to the Israeli occupation – two sovereign states unlinked or in a confederation – would likely be boosted by greater equality within negotiations. The status quo of the last thirty years has now failed, and it is incumbent upon the international community to encourage and facilitate self-determination and peace. In 2014, the House of Commons passed a non-binding motion to recognise Palestinian statehood alongside Israel. This garnered significant support from both sides of the House, but the British government did not alter its long-standing policy to “recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace”. We aim to assess if now is the time.