Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

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Lyn's Speech in the House of Commons in Support of the Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

On 13 October 2014 Lyn Brown MP spoke in favour of the recognition of Palestinian statehood. Below is Lyn's speech:

13 October 2014 8:53pm

Over the past weeks my inbox has been flooded with hundreds of letters from my constituents. Their strength of feeling is undeniable, their arguments are heartfelt, and their conviction is deep-seated—and for good reason. I share those arguments and that conviction.

Of the thousands of letters and e-mails I have received, there is one from Mia Thomas, extracts from which I would like to read today.

“I am a 21 year old medical student and I have just returned from 5 weeks in Ramallah in the West Bank. I am feelingincreasingly helpless and frustrated, as every day the death count of innocent Palestinians grows higher and there seems so little we can do about it and our Government will not act decisively.

"By contrast with Gaza, Ramallah is very safe. It is in Area A, so in theory it is completely Palestinian-run and governed. In reality, even in the heart of Palestine, it is still an occupied territory and violence erupts at checkpoints with scary regularity.

"From where I was staying you could see Jerusalem—Ramallah is only 19 km away as the crow flies, but the journey there takes an hour because Palestinian buses are only allowed to use certain roads and then you have to pass through a checkpoint, where everyone’s ID cards/passports are checked at gunpoint, before changing on to an Israeli bus to carry on the journey. This sort of thing isn’t particularly harmful to one’s health and is viewed just as a hassle, but it also creates this feeling of being completely caged and unable to move.

"As a foreigner, I was visiting cities within the West Bank that local friends hadn’t been to, not because of lack of funds or curiosity but because people are afraid of getting stuck outside their city as checkpoints can be closed at any point. The occupation has limited people’s movements physically, but it also massively limits people mentally in what they perceive they can and cannot do…

"In a village further north near Nablus I met the mayor of the village, who was a wonderful man. He was in a wheel chair because as a young goat herder he was shot in the spine by Israeli soldiers from the military camp that looms over the village. He now runs the village and has an absolute rule of no protesting or fighting with the Israeli settlement nearby because, as he said, he ‘doesn’t want anyone else—Palestinian or Israeli—to lose the ability to walk’. He says just existing as a village is resistance. In the last year the Israelis have demolished 3 houses in the village, and as they try and rebuild them you can see how hard life is when just living and farming your land is an act of defiance.”

Mia concluded her letter with the following:

“I’m so ANGRY about what’s going on in Gaza. Most people are, I think, which is why I’m confused as to why it’s being allowed to continue. If this cycle of hate and violence is ever going to end, it has to start now with an end to killing—of Palestinians and Israelis.”

Ms Thomas is clearly a brave woman. She came back impassioned, disillusioned and angry. That anger and disillusionment was not just about the conflict she had witnessed; it was about her frustration that those of us in this House were not giving her a voice. Today I want to give her a voice, in the same way that I believe we must give Palestinians a voice.

 

It is time to recognise a Palestinian state, a right they have long deserved, and use that recognition as a path to a wider process of negotiation—two equal states living side by side in peace and security and sharing in prosperity. We cannot stand here today, say that we believe in that goal of a two-state solution and then stand by and refuse to recognise one of the states. I encourage the House to take this opportunity and support the motion.

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