Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP, doubles down on effort for official UK recognition of Palestinian statehood

Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP, doubles down on effort for official UK recognition of Palestinian statehood
A proposed law that could see the UK finally recognise an independent Palestinian state is being pushed by Lib Dem MP Layla Moran.
4 min read
16 March, 2023
Layla Moran said she believes it's time the UK government recognises a Palestinian state [Getty/archive]

British MP Layla Moran is campaigning for the UK government to finally recognise a Palestinian state with a bill scheduled to be debated in parliament this week.

The second reading of the Private Members Bill will take place in the House of Commons on Friday if time allows it, the Palestinian-British politician told The New Arab, hopefully bringing the bill a step closer to becoming law.

The bill presented by the Liberal Democrat MP, who also serves as the party's Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development, will seek to recognise Palestine "as a sovereign and independent state", based on pre-1967 borders.

Moran also wants to see the Palestinian mission in London upgraded to an embassy and given full diplomatic status.

"It's a real honour - as the UK's first British-Palestinian MP - to be able to bring the Palestine recognition bill to be debated," Moran, whose mother is a Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, told The New Arab ahead of Friday's debate.

"To be honest, it's unlikely the government will accept it. They maintain their position on waiting for some end, some peace agreement, sometime in the future - that is likely not to exist - [before recognising] the State of Palestine."

Despite the government's obfuscation on the issue, there appears to be support in the UK parliament for such a move. In 2014, MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of recognising Palestine as a state, in a non-binding motion.

If Friday's bill passes the second reading, it will go to the committee and report stages before the third reading, when it will then make its way to the House of Lords and then given Royal Assent.

Moran believes that with Israel's continued insistence on expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem - territory that has long been recognised as the future location of a Palestinian state - and other provocations by its far-right government, now is the time for the UK to recognise the State of Palestine.

"I think with the right-wing Israeli government that we see now, in the way they flagrantly flout international law by actively trying to expand illegal settlements, that this is the time for the UK government to make good on its historic obligations to the Palestinian people," Moran said.

Moran also praised the resilience of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation, as well as the Palestinian diaspora who have maintained their "existence, identity and the cause of self-determination" under such hostile conditions.

"I believe that it's time that the British government helps us to do this," Moran said.

Moran said she will work to convince other MPs to back the law and see a Palestinian state is finally recognised.

Palestinians in the UK have long called on their government to recognise a Palestinian state, particularly due to the country's role in the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the lead up to the 1948 Nakba.

When Israel was created after British colonial rule of Palestine ended, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes by Zionist militas.

The suffering of Palestinians has continued for decades.

Persecution of Palestinians has intensified following the election last November of a new Israeli extreme-right government that includes ministers such as Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalal Smotrich known for their racist rhetoric and close links to the settlement movement.

At least 84 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since the start of this year in near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank, including children.

Forced evictions and home demolitions are also a daily reality of life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.