Parliament today took the historic decision to recognize the state of Palestine. The vote was won by 274 to 12 after a lengthy debate in the House of Commons.
The motion passed stated:
“That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.”
The initial motion proposed by Grahame Morris MP was amended to include the words “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.
The UK’s official position is that the Government, “reserves the right to recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally at the moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace”.
With little progress in peace negotiations over the last few years despite a concerted effort by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the recent announcement of more illegal settlements to be built on Palestinian land in the Occupied Territories and the Israeli incursion into Gaza this summer, with the huge loss of Palestinian civilian lives, the motion on recognising Palestine underscores the importance of our acknowledging that the moment “when it can best help bring about peace” is now.
The Labour party imposed a 3 line whip ensuring that those MPs attending the debate would vote for the motion. Conservative ministers abstained from voting though a number of Conservative MPs, Crispin Blunt and the Rt. Hon. Alan Duncan among them, attended the debate and supported the motion. Liberal Democrats ministers also abstained from the debate though backbench MPs from both Coalition parties enjoyed a free vote on the issue.
Although today’s vote is not binding on the Government, the issue of recognition is a symbolic gesture which affirms parliamentary and public support for the Palestinian state. At a time when illegal settlement activity continues apace in the occupied territories and the peace process is at an impasse, today’s vote recognising the state of Palestine brings a new impetus for peace.
MEND would like to thank all the MPs who voted for the motion and all the members of the public who supported it but we should be reminded that the backbench motion, though significant, has no binding power. As we approach general elections next year, all those in support of a Government position favouring recognition must look to party manifestos and the pledges of party leaders for a shift the UK’s official position. So while we celebrate the incredible symbolic victory achieved today let us not lose sight of the greater challenge ahead
View information about this debate and find out how the votes were placed in the link below: