THE Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, has urged the Government to recognise Palestine as a State, in a House of Lords debate on the living conditions of Palestinian children.
The House of Commons voted in favour of doing so last year, but the Government has not acted on the vote, arguing that it will do so when such a move can best bring about peace.
Bishop Chessun said that it was “a strange use of the prerogative to persist in gainsaying Parliament on the matter”. He also urged the Government to lobby Israel to stop using live ammunition in situations involving children, and to open the Gaza Strip’s borders and improve medical conditions in Gaza and the West Bank.
The debate in the Lords was begun by Lord Warner, who said that he wanted to put on parliamentary record “the appalling conditions under which Palestine’s children are living in both the blockaded collective prison of Gaza and the 50-year military occupation in the West Bank and east Jerusalem”.
Children not only lose their lives in conflict, but also their growth is stunted through malnutrition; 95 per cent of water is unfit for consumption, medical supplies are restricted, and their homes have been destroyed, Lord Warner told the Lords. “Gaza’s children have been condemned, through no fault of their own, to a future without hope: a groundhog day of perpetual misery.”
Responding to Bishop Chessun on behalf of the Government, Lady Mobarik said: “We will recognise a Palestinian State when we judge that it can best bring about peace, but bilateral recognition in itself will not end the occupation. Without a negotiated settlement, the occupation and the problems that come with it will continue. UK aid will continue to help, but for the sake of children in both Israel and the Occupied Territories, we need a just resolution that ends the occupation and delivers lasting peace.”