Re: Palestine recognition - can the UK's yes vote free Britain from its two-faced past?

Published October 16th, 2014 - 10:57 GMT

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When asked how Great Britain could help end the conflict over Kashmir during a visit to Pakistan in 2011, Prime Minister David Cameronsaid: "I don't want to try to insert Britain in some leading role where, as with so many of the world's problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place."

The UK passed a non-binding motion to recognize a legitimate Palestinian state last week, stealing headlines and winning some hearts. Still, something was off.

There was an elephant in the Parliament last monday - was it Britain’s guilt? Continue reading below »

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On Monday 13 Oct 2014, Britain’s parliament voted in favor of a non-binding motion recognizing the state of Palestine. Hailed by campaigners as a “historic moment”, this sounded more like a historic irony and throwback reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration which sidelined any pro-Arab intent in a mirror pledge to the Jewish people.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11On Monday 13 Oct 2014, Britain’s parliament voted in favor of a non-binding motion recognizing the state of Palestine. Hailed by campaigners as a “historic moment”, this sounded more like a historic irony and throwback reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration which sidelined any pro-Arab intent in a mirror pledge to the Jewish people.

Enlarge
The Holy Land conflict is a “sticky wicket” for Britain, which has a long legacy of Middle East double-dealing. In the near-100 years since Balfour endorsed the idea of a Jewish homeland, the UK has not enforced its mandate that “nothing...be done which may prejudice the...rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.
Reduce

Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11The Holy Land conflict is a “sticky wicket” for Britain, which has a long legacy of Middle East double-dealing. In the near-100 years since Balfour endorsed the idea of a Jewish homeland, the UK has not enforced its mandate that “nothing...be done which may prejudice the...rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

Enlarge
The UK incited Arab revolt against the Turks with a pair of incongruous promises about the Ottoman lands they expected to acquire. Deal #1 promised an Arab nation led by Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and his son Faisal. Deal #2 pledged a new Jewish homeland in Palestine. A flimflam largely hidden under the epic story of Lawrence of Arabia.
Reduce

Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11The UK incited Arab revolt against the Turks with a pair of incongruous promises about the Ottoman lands they expected to acquire. Deal #1 promised an Arab nation led by Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and his son Faisal. Deal #2 pledged a new Jewish homeland in Palestine. A flimflam largely hidden under the epic story of Lawrence of Arabia.

Enlarge
Balfour specified a 'national home' for Jews, not a 'state', due to tepid UK support of Zionism. Secretary Sykes said Zionists didn’t aim 'to set up a Jewish Republic...in Palestine immediately' but opted for a protected homeland. Tacitly, Brits agreed that the “commonwealth” would become a state if sufficient numbers of Jews settled there.
Reduce

Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11Balfour specified a "national home" for Jews, not a "state", due to tepid UK support of Zionism. Secretary Sykes said Zionists didn’t aim "to set up a Jewish Republic...in Palestine immediately" but opted for a protected homeland. Tacitly, Brits agreed that the “commonwealth” would become a state if sufficient numbers of Jews settled there.

Enlarge
Rule Britannia! The sun never sets on the British Empire and certainly hadn't by 1916 when the UK and France secretly carved out their proposed spheres of influence across the Levant for a post Ottoman Empire eventuality and called it Sykes-Picot Agreement. Only to give away the British share of the pie, and not to their Arab friends, either.
Reduce

Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11Rule Britannia! The sun never sets on the British Empire and certainly hadn't by 1916 when the UK and France secretly carved out their proposed spheres of influence across the Levant for a post Ottoman Empire eventuality and called it Sykes-Picot Agreement. Only to give away the British share of the pie, and not to their Arab friends, either.

Enlarge
While Jewish immigration to Palestine trickled in pre-partition, Hitler's Holocaust spurred numbers as around 175,000 immigrants entered the Holy Land. Tension mounted with local Arabs, sparking the 1936-1939 uprising against the Brits (seen to be granting back-door entry with one hand; honoring their pledge to Arab independence with the other.)
Reduce

Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11While Jewish immigration to Palestine trickled in pre-partition, Hitler's Holocaust spurred numbers as around 175,000 immigrants entered the Holy Land. Tension mounted with local Arabs, sparking the 1936-1939 uprising against the Brits (seen to be granting back-door entry with one hand; honoring their pledge to Arab independence with the other.)

Enlarge
Britain's White Paper of 1939 curbed Jewish immigration in Palestine - but it also ended a British scheme to divide the territory between Arabs and Jews, a u-turn unpopular with Arab leaders. That hallmark ambivalence that has carried through to today’s parliamentary call (currently un-supported by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government).
Reduce

Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Britain's White Paper of 1939 curbed Jewish immigration in Palestine - but it also ended a British scheme to divide the territory between Arabs and Jews, a u-turn unpopular with Arab leaders. That hallmark ambivalence that has carried through to today’s parliamentary call (currently un-supported by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government).

Enlarge
Whose side are they on anyway? British policy in Palestine is sometimes blamed for a new breed of terrorists. In 1946, underground Zionist militia (the Irgun) bombed British offices at King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The attack that killed 91 saw Britain punished for being tough on immigration, following a British raid on Jewish migration offices.
Reduce

Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11Whose side are they on anyway? British policy in Palestine is sometimes blamed for a new breed of terrorists. In 1946, underground Zionist militia (the Irgun) bombed British offices at King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The attack that killed 91 saw Britain punished for being tough on immigration, following a British raid on Jewish migration offices.

Enlarge
It’s easy to flip symbolic recognition to Palestine: see the Brits grab the microphone. But when things get messy, they pull that stiff upper lip. In 1947, after 27 years of rule in Palestine, they passed the increasingly complex Zionist-Arab issue to the UN. The result was Israel, a Jewish sanctuary that’s bullying Palestine off the world map.
Reduce

Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11It’s easy to flip symbolic recognition to Palestine: see the Brits grab the microphone. But when things get messy, they pull that stiff upper lip. In 1947, after 27 years of rule in Palestine, they passed the increasingly complex Zionist-Arab issue to the UN. The result was Israel, a Jewish sanctuary that’s bullying Palestine off the world map.

Enlarge
When the Brits fled during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Americans stepped in as Colonialists 2.0. Over 32 days the U.S. shipped over 22,325 tons of munitions to help Israel fend off attacks by (Soviet proxies) Egypt and Syria. Israel survived, but the US was punished by a subsequent Arab oil embargo that sparked the 1973 oil crisis.
Reduce

Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11When the Brits fled during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Americans stepped in as Colonialists 2.0. Over 32 days the U.S. shipped over 22,325 tons of munitions to help Israel fend off attacks by (Soviet proxies) Egypt and Syria. Israel survived, but the US was punished by a subsequent Arab oil embargo that sparked the 1973 oil crisis.

Enlarge
After the Brits did a runner during the Yom Kippur war, U.S. presidents Kissinger and Carter played active roles in the Middle East. American-Israeli ties strengthened and the UK took a back seat. The U.S. now donates $3 bn to Israel in military aid annually. This may leave Britain off the hook but some are not ready to forget who started this!
Reduce

Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11After the Brits did a runner during the Yom Kippur war, U.S. presidents Kissinger and Carter played active roles in the Middle East. American-Israeli ties strengthened and the UK took a back seat. The U.S. now donates $3 bn to Israel in military aid annually. This may leave Britain off the hook but some are not ready to forget who started this!

Enlarge

1

On Monday 13 Oct 2014, Britain’s parliament voted in favor of a non-binding motion recognizing the state of Palestine. Hailed by campaigners as a “historic moment”, this sounded more like a historic irony and throwback reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration which sidelined any pro-Arab intent in a mirror pledge to the Jewish people.

Image 1 of 11On Monday 13 Oct 2014, Britain’s parliament voted in favor of a non-binding motion recognizing the state of Palestine. Hailed by campaigners as a “historic moment”, this sounded more like a historic irony and throwback reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration which sidelined any pro-Arab intent in a mirror pledge to the Jewish people.

2

The Holy Land conflict is a “sticky wicket” for Britain, which has a long legacy of Middle East double-dealing. In the near-100 years since Balfour endorsed the idea of a Jewish homeland, the UK has not enforced its mandate that “nothing...be done which may prejudice the...rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

Image 2 of 11The Holy Land conflict is a “sticky wicket” for Britain, which has a long legacy of Middle East double-dealing. In the near-100 years since Balfour endorsed the idea of a Jewish homeland, the UK has not enforced its mandate that “nothing...be done which may prejudice the...rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

3

The UK incited Arab revolt against the Turks with a pair of incongruous promises about the Ottoman lands they expected to acquire. Deal #1 promised an Arab nation led by Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and his son Faisal. Deal #2 pledged a new Jewish homeland in Palestine. A flimflam largely hidden under the epic story of Lawrence of Arabia.

Image 3 of 11The UK incited Arab revolt against the Turks with a pair of incongruous promises about the Ottoman lands they expected to acquire. Deal #1 promised an Arab nation led by Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca and his son Faisal. Deal #2 pledged a new Jewish homeland in Palestine. A flimflam largely hidden under the epic story of Lawrence of Arabia.

4

Balfour specified a 'national home' for Jews, not a 'state', due to tepid UK support of Zionism. Secretary Sykes said Zionists didn’t aim 'to set up a Jewish Republic...in Palestine immediately' but opted for a protected homeland. Tacitly, Brits agreed that the “commonwealth” would become a state if sufficient numbers of Jews settled there.

Image 4 of 11Balfour specified a "national home" for Jews, not a "state", due to tepid UK support of Zionism. Secretary Sykes said Zionists didn’t aim "to set up a Jewish Republic...in Palestine immediately" but opted for a protected homeland. Tacitly, Brits agreed that the “commonwealth” would become a state if sufficient numbers of Jews settled there.

5

Rule Britannia! The sun never sets on the British Empire and certainly hadn't by 1916 when the UK and France secretly carved out their proposed spheres of influence across the Levant for a post Ottoman Empire eventuality and called it Sykes-Picot Agreement. Only to give away the British share of the pie, and not to their Arab friends, either.

Image 5 of 11Rule Britannia! The sun never sets on the British Empire and certainly hadn't by 1916 when the UK and France secretly carved out their proposed spheres of influence across the Levant for a post Ottoman Empire eventuality and called it Sykes-Picot Agreement. Only to give away the British share of the pie, and not to their Arab friends, either.

6

While Jewish immigration to Palestine trickled in pre-partition, Hitler's Holocaust spurred numbers as around 175,000 immigrants entered the Holy Land. Tension mounted with local Arabs, sparking the 1936-1939 uprising against the Brits (seen to be granting back-door entry with one hand; honoring their pledge to Arab independence with the other.)

Image 6 of 11While Jewish immigration to Palestine trickled in pre-partition, Hitler's Holocaust spurred numbers as around 175,000 immigrants entered the Holy Land. Tension mounted with local Arabs, sparking the 1936-1939 uprising against the Brits (seen to be granting back-door entry with one hand; honoring their pledge to Arab independence with the other.)

7

Britain's White Paper of 1939 curbed Jewish immigration in Palestine - but it also ended a British scheme to divide the territory between Arabs and Jews, a u-turn unpopular with Arab leaders. That hallmark ambivalence that has carried through to today’s parliamentary call (currently un-supported by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government).

Image 7 of 11Britain's White Paper of 1939 curbed Jewish immigration in Palestine - but it also ended a British scheme to divide the territory between Arabs and Jews, a u-turn unpopular with Arab leaders. That hallmark ambivalence that has carried through to today’s parliamentary call (currently un-supported by Prime Minister David Cameron’s government).

8

Whose side are they on anyway? British policy in Palestine is sometimes blamed for a new breed of terrorists. In 1946, underground Zionist militia (the Irgun) bombed British offices at King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The attack that killed 91 saw Britain punished for being tough on immigration, following a British raid on Jewish migration offices.

Image 8 of 11Whose side are they on anyway? British policy in Palestine is sometimes blamed for a new breed of terrorists. In 1946, underground Zionist militia (the Irgun) bombed British offices at King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The attack that killed 91 saw Britain punished for being tough on immigration, following a British raid on Jewish migration offices.

9

It’s easy to flip symbolic recognition to Palestine: see the Brits grab the microphone. But when things get messy, they pull that stiff upper lip. In 1947, after 27 years of rule in Palestine, they passed the increasingly complex Zionist-Arab issue to the UN. The result was Israel, a Jewish sanctuary that’s bullying Palestine off the world map.

Image 9 of 11It’s easy to flip symbolic recognition to Palestine: see the Brits grab the microphone. But when things get messy, they pull that stiff upper lip. In 1947, after 27 years of rule in Palestine, they passed the increasingly complex Zionist-Arab issue to the UN. The result was Israel, a Jewish sanctuary that’s bullying Palestine off the world map.

10

When the Brits fled during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Americans stepped in as Colonialists 2.0. Over 32 days the U.S. shipped over 22,325 tons of munitions to help Israel fend off attacks by (Soviet proxies) Egypt and Syria. Israel survived, but the US was punished by a subsequent Arab oil embargo that sparked the 1973 oil crisis.

Image 10 of 11When the Brits fled during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Americans stepped in as Colonialists 2.0. Over 32 days the U.S. shipped over 22,325 tons of munitions to help Israel fend off attacks by (Soviet proxies) Egypt and Syria. Israel survived, but the US was punished by a subsequent Arab oil embargo that sparked the 1973 oil crisis.

11

After the Brits did a runner during the Yom Kippur war, U.S. presidents Kissinger and Carter played active roles in the Middle East. American-Israeli ties strengthened and the UK took a back seat. The U.S. now donates $3 bn to Israel in military aid annually. This may leave Britain off the hook but some are not ready to forget who started this!

Image 11 of 11After the Brits did a runner during the Yom Kippur war, U.S. presidents Kissinger and Carter played active roles in the Middle East. American-Israeli ties strengthened and the UK took a back seat. The U.S. now donates $3 bn to Israel in military aid annually. This may leave Britain off the hook but some are not ready to forget who started this!

Reduce

That Britain once played a pivotal role in Palestinian affairs, coupled with the side-lined approach it takes today, makes for a relationship that’s wrought with challenges and consistent contradictions.

Most Palestinians will not easily forget the British role in cementing an Israel back in the early 20th century. It was a move that seemed to sell them down the river, quite literally, into Jordan to uphold a bargain with the other promised people, squashing any potential for a viable Palestinian state.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

So before we all go patting British backs for being so ‘enlightened’, it’s worth acknowledging their hefty historic role, just as Cameron noted in 2011. From drawing borders with a ruler to throwing the fate of Palestine into UN hands, many remember a heavy-handed British narrative of past, and that’s not so easily rewritten.

Wait Britain sponsors Palestinian statehood? Not so fast! 10 reminders of things the British establishment has to feel guilty about re: Palestine. This is our roundup of British prevarications and dabblings, and how they’ve left us asking if this week's landmark parliamentary motion for recognition of a proto-Palestine is simply too little, too late?

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