Palestine in the British elections

Palestine in the British elections

The embarrassing point for the British side, in general, is the issue of recognizing an independent Palestinian state (File/AFP)
The embarrassing point for the British side, in general, is the issue of recognizing an independent Palestinian state (File/AFP)
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It is highly probable and reasonable that the war in Gaza, with its various implications and facets, will constitute a contentious topic among the three major political parties during the parliamentary elections in Britain. Allow me to clarify that I do not mean that the future of Gaza, after the current war settles down, or the overall Palestinian situation as a whole, will be considered a primary or even secondary issue within the programs of parties addressing voters to win the largest share of votes. Certainly, the British voter has far too many problems with Britain’s internal affairs, which take precedence over Palestine, and other international concerns in general. However, this will not prevent the presence of international issues from emerging during discussions between voters and candidates. Specifically in this regard, it is natural for Palestine to receive significant attention.

The embarrassing point for the British side in general is the issue of recognizing an independent Palestinian state, as Spain, Ireland, and Norway have done

Bakir Oweida

But why is it natural for this to happen? The presence of the Palestinian issue during election campaign discussions is a continuation of what various arenas of debate in this country witness in terms of differences in positions, whether at the level of party leadership or the level of their popular bases, regarding Benjamin Netanyahu’s brutal war against innocent civilians in Gaza on the one hand, and on the other hand, regarding the tragedy of the Palestinian people as a whole. Since the early days after the Al-Aqsa Flood, there have been clear differences of opinion. The event showed that the world is facing a war unlike any other in the history of the Middle East. This war aims to redraw maps in the region, requiring plans to redistribute populations, even if it means uprooting some from the land they were born in, raised in, and where their loved ones have been buried for decades. If these are not the characteristics of a war that ignites the strongest conflicts in all political circles, then what war can?

A war that shakes people to their core, regardless of gender, religion, and race, and touches their humanity, will provoke anger among them that war instigators can hardly imagine. The image of 9-year-old Saigon girl Phan Thi Kim Phuc, captured by the camera after being hit by napalm bombs during the Vietnam War, will not fade away from human memory. Although the girl was treated and survived, her image continues to symbolize the devastating impact of war. How many photos of children killed in Gaza, which will forever haunt historical records, serve as a reminder of the ongoing horror?

It can be said that there are vast differences between the positions of the ruling Conservative party and the opposition Labour and Liberal Democrats parties regarding the future of Gaza, and the overall Palestinian issue. At the same time, the positions of these parties are not set in stone and can change. The embarrassing point for the British side in general is the issue of recognizing an independent Palestinian state, as Spain, Ireland, and Norway have done. However, this may take a long time given the magnitude of the issues awaiting the winning party in the elections that will determine Britain’s path for the next five years.

  • Bakir Oweida is a Palestinian journalist who pursued a professional career in journalism in Libya in 1968, where he worked at Al-Haqiqa newspaper in Benghazi, then Al-Balagh and Al-Jihad in Tripoli. He has written for several Arab publications in Britain since 1978. He worked at Al-Arab newspaper, +Al-Thadamun magazine and the international Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. He has also worked as a consultant at the online newspaper Elaph.
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