Saturday, March 24, 2018

British Parliament Votes to Recognize State of Palestine

October 14, 2014
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UN] [UN bid] [Two State Solution]

British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly Monday in favor of recognizing the State of Palestine. 
The final vote, which followed a debate that lasted nearly five hours, came down to 274 ayes against only 12 nays. More than half of the 650 member House of Commons, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, abstained from voting. Although the vote has no real practical significance—it does not oblige the British government to change its current policy towards Palestine—it does signify that Israel may be losing the broader battle for public opinion in the Britain. 
The initial motion scheduled for debate declared: “This House urges the government to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.” It was subsequently amended to with the phrase: “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.” 
The motion, initiated by MP Grahame Morris from the opposition Labour party, was watched via live-stream around the world. Morris said that Britain had a “moral responsibility” to act given its historical role as a colonial power in the region, particularly its mandatory control over historic Palestine from 1920-1948 as well as its backing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917.  
“It’s absolutely clear that Israel-Palestine relations are stuck at an impasse, as is our foreign policy,” Morris said in his opening remarks. 
“Both of these impasses must be broken. We hear a great deal of talk about the two-state solution but today, through validating both states, members will have the opportunity to translate all of that principles talk into action.” 
In an unexpected statement, conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee and longtime ally of Israel Sir Richard Ottaway said that Netanyahu’s recent decision to annex land in the Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank had cost Israel his support. 
“I was a friend of Israel long before I became a Tory. My wife’s family were instrumental in the creation of the Jewish state,” he said. “I realize now Israel has slowly been drifting away from world 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. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.” 
To make our recognition of Palestine dependent of Israel’s agreement would be to grant Israel a veto over Palestinian self-determination.
Although ordinarily he would have opposed the motion, Ottaway’s frustration seems to have pushed him to the other side of the fence. “Such is my anger with the behavior of Israel in recent months that I will not be opposing this motion. I have to say to the government of Israel: if it is losing people like me, it is going to be losing a lot of people.” 
In his speech during the debate, Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood said the UK would only recognize a Palestinian state at the appropriate time. “The aspirations of the Palestinian people cannot be fully realized until there is an end to the occupation…and we believe this will only come through negotiations,” he said. 
“Only an end to the occupation will ensure that Palestinian statehood becomes a reality on the ground. The UK will bilaterally recognize a Palestinian state when we judge that it can best help to bring about the peace.” 
The Palestinian Authority estimates that 134 of the UN’s 193 member states have recognized Palestinian statehood. The UK, however, abstained in 2012 from a vote at the United Nations that granted Palestine the rank of observer state. 
Morris, the author of the motion, attempted to convince his fellow lawmakers that, given the last 20-years or so of discussion since the signing of the Oslo Accords, it is not practical to wait for Palestinian statehood to arise through negotiations. 
“To make our recognition of Palestine dependent of Israel’s agreement would be to grant Israel a veto over Palestinian self-determination,” he said. 

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