Parliament votes to back recognition of Palestinian nation

On Monday night, an overwhelming number of MPs in Parliament voted for the UK supporting the recognition of Palestinian statehood.

With an outcome of 274 to 12, a majority of 262, MPs from all sides, whether Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem pressed the Government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” as part of a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

This symbolic motion is a sign of a significant change of the opinion within the political landscape, brought about by the war in Gaza over the summer and the failure of several peace negotiations.

Despite there still being supporters of Israel within the Conservative Party, many chose not to oppose the motion brought forward by backbench Labour MP Grahame Morris, with Prime Minister David Cameron himself reportedly abstaining from the vote.

Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said that because of recent actions by the Israelis, he could no longer deny Palestinians the right of recognition.

“I have been a friend of Israel long before I became a Tory,” he said in the House of Commons. “I have stood by Israel through thick and thin. But I realise now that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world international public opinion.

“The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. Under normal circumstances I would oppose this motion. But such us my anger over the behaviour of Israel that I will not be opposing it. I have to say to the government of Israel- if it is losing people like me it is going to be losing a lot people.”

Another supporter of the motion is Alan Duncan, former international development minister, saying that “Refusing Palestinian recognition is tantamount to giving Israel the right of veto.

“Recognising Palestine is not about recognising a government. It is states that are recognised not governments. It is the recognition of the right to exist as a state- it is not about endorsing a state that has to be in perfect working order. It is the principle of that recognition that this House should pass today.”

However despite the huge support, there is still opposition, with former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind warning that a move should not be adopted simply because its symbolic.

He said: “For me the most important question is what practical benefit would passing this resolution make? It might make us feel good. But recognising a state should only happen when the territory in question has the basic requirements of a state. And through no fault of the Palestinians that is not true at the moment and it seems to me that the resolution before us is premature as we do not have a Palestinian government.”

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