July 3, 2024
The UK Labour Party has recently pledged to recognise a Palestinian state as part of its election manifesto, a move that has garnered significant attention and sparked various debates. This article will explore the historical context, current situation, and potential future impacts of this pledge. It will provide an overview, highlighting different perspectives and outlining the implications of this significant political decision.

Historical Context

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a longstanding and deeply rooted issue, with origins tracing back to the early 20th century. The struggle over land, national identity, and sovereignty has led to numerous wars and ongoing tensions. The idea of a two-state solution, which envisions an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, has been a focal point of peace efforts for decades. However, progress towards this solution has been slow and fraught with challenges.

In recent years, the recognition of Palestinian statehood has gained momentum on the international stage. As of now, around 144 out of 193 United Nations member states recognise Palestine as a sovereign state. Countries such as Spain, Ireland, and Norway have recently joined this list with other countries having taken Israel to court for its recent actions in Gaza, aiming to bolster peace efforts in the region .

Labour Party’s Current Position

The Labour Party, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, has included the recognition of a Palestinian state in its manifesto for the upcoming election. This pledge marks a shift from the party’s previous stance, which, in the 2019 manifesto, promised immediate recognition of Palestine. The current manifesto, however, ties recognition to the progress of a peace process, emphasising that it should occur “at an appropriate time” .

Labour’s manifesto states, “Palestinian statehood is the inalienable right of the Palestinian people. It is not in the gift of any neighbour and is also essential to the long-term security of Israel” . This statement reflects a commitment to a renewed peace process aimed at achieving a two-state solution.

Impacts and Implications

Domestic Political Repercussions

Domestically, the Labour Party’s stance on Palestinian statehood has sparked both support and criticism. Some party members and supporters welcome the pledge as a necessary step towards justice and peace. Vincent Fean, a trustee of the Balfour Project and former UK Consul-General to Jerusalem, called Labour’s commitment “belated but clear” and emphasised the moral duty of recognising Palestinian self-determination .

However, others view the pledge as a dilution of Labour’s previous position. Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, criticised the manifesto for not committing to immediate recognition, arguing that it undermines the Palestinian right to self-determination . This sentiment is shared by many within the party, leading to resignations and membership cancellations over perceived inadequacies in Labour’s stance on the Gaza conflict and Palestinian rights.


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International Reactions

Internationally, Labour’s pledge has the potential to influence the UK’s foreign policy and its relationships with both Israel and Palestine. The current Conservative-led government has maintained a stance that recognition of Palestine should come as part of a negotiated settlement between Israeli and Palestinian representatives. Any deviation from this policy that does not currently recognise Palestine, by a future Labour government could shift the dynamics of UK diplomacy in the region .

Critics like the State of Israel argue that unilateral recognition of Palestine might be perceived as undermining Israel’s security concerns and could be seen as rewarding groups like Hamas that has been deemed to be a terrorist organisation by several countries, including Israel, the United States, and the European Union

However, Israel’s military campaign to rid the Gaza Strip of the Hamas terror group has sparked support for Palestinians with many countries now recognising statehood. Proponents contend that this recognition is a step towards achieving a balanced and fair peace process, ensuring Palestinian sovereignty and even Israeli security.

Future Forecast

Looking ahead, the implementation of Labour’s pledge to recognise Palestinian statehood will depend on several factors, including the outcome of the upcoming election and the subsequent political climate. If Labour wins and follows through on its manifesto, it could catalyse further international recognition of Palestine and potentially reinvigorate peace negotiations.

However, the path forward is fraught with complexities. Achieving a sustainable two-state solution requires addressing numerous contentious issues, including borders, the status of Jerusalem, security arrangements, and the rights of refugees. Labour’s pledge, while significant, is but one piece in the larger puzzle of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


The Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to recognise a Palestinian state is a pivotal development in UK politics, reflecting both historical commitments and contemporary challenges. By tying recognition to the progress of a peace process, Labour aims to balance the rights of Palestinians with the security concerns of Israel. This move has sparked a spectrum of reactions, highlighting the sensitive and multifaceted nature of the issue.

As the situation evolves, the implications of this pledge will unfold, shaping not only the future of UK foreign policy but also the broader quest for peace and justice in the Middle East. For legal students and observers, understanding these dynamics is crucial in navigating the complex interplay of international law, diplomacy, and human rights.


Words by Mallika Singhal


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