SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has expressed the outrage felt in Derry over the scale of violence visited on the people of Gaza during Operation Protective Edge – and has re-iterated his call for strong international support for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine.
Speaking during this week’s Westminster Hall debate on Palestine, Mr Durkan said: “My constituents (in Derry) know about conflict and peace processes and they know all about excusery, whataboutery and blame games when peace processes stall and initiatives fail. They even know about when institutions fall.
“My constituents also know outrage when they see it – as there was this summer, with the scale of the violence visited on the people of Gaza by Operation Protective Edge.
“I have said before that if we are serious about a two-state solution, we need to create more of a semblance around a two-state process. That is why moving towards recognising Palestinian statehood is so important; it is the single biggest thing that those of us outside, representing the international democratic interest, can do. Doing that is not about a little token PR win for Palestine or about one in the eye for Israel; it is about trying to create a more equal process and trying to say that international standards will and do apply – not just to Israel, but to Palestine. Any Palestinian state that is created or recognised will have to adhere to all the legal instruments to which they wish to bring Israel.
“Our (Northern Irish peace) process shows that is true. It shows that if people are serious about negotiating a process, they have to recognise that it is not going to be a matter of them all converting others to their views. It will be a matter of convergence, so people, based on the integrity of their own position and knowing that their own interests and identity are going to be secured in the arrangements, can move forward to respect and accommodate each other.
“In any situation of historic conflict, people need to recognise that they cannot be secure against each other; they can be truly secure only with each other. They cannot prosper against each other; they can truly prosper only with each other. That is why we need a two-state solution and why that needs strong international support. The issue is not about simply leaving things to the parties themselves and saying, “It is up to them to find enough will.” We cannot leave it to the parties themselves, any more than it was just left to the parties themselves in our process. International goodwill and interest has to find its standard. People also have to know that, whatever the outcome, the states created will fully adhere to human rights and conform to international law. They can hold each other to that and affirm those guarantees for all their citizens, whatever identities those citizens have.”