British Lawmakers Vote “Aye” to Recognize State of Palestine

October 14, 2014

2 min read

British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state. While the vote is unlikely to change government policy, British lawmakers have made a giant political statement.

The ayes carried the vote with a total of 274 votes, with only 12 nays. Prime Minister David Cameron and other senior political leaders abstained. More than half of the 650 Commons members did not take part in the vote.

The motion put forth to the House of Commons stated: “The House urges the government to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.” It was later amended to add “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

The motion was sponsored by Grahame Morris, a member of the opposition Labour party. Morris said that Britain has a “moral responsibility” to help found an independent Palestinian state based on Britain’s history as a colonial power in the Middle East.

Britain controlled Palestine from 1920-1948 until the State of Israel was founded. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a significant step forward towards Jewish statehood.

The vote comes after Sweden’s new government announced that it would recognize a Palestinian state.

“It’s absolutely clear that Israel-Palestine relations are stuck at an impasse, as is our foreign policy,” Morris stated at the opening of the debate.

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“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 principled talk into action.”

In Israel, lawmakers are not happy with the outcome of the vote. Israel’s Foreign Minstry warned that prematurely recognizing a Palestinian state would undermine peace efforts.

“Premature international recognition sends a troubling message to the Palestinian leadership that they can evade the tough choices that both sides have to make, and actually undermines the chances to reach a real peace,” a statement released by the Foreign Ministry read.

The Israeli Embassy in London criticized the vote, stressing that “The route to Palestinian statehood runs through the negotiating room.”

The vote was welcomed by Palestinians. Senior PLO official Hanan Ashwari said in a statement,” It will enhance the European voices calling for the recognition of the State of Palestine and will create the right environment for the international community to grant the Palestinian people legal parity and rights.”

The Palestinian Authority estimates that 134 countries have recognized Palestine as a state. However, the figure is disputed since many of the recognitions were from states during the Soviet era.

In 2012, Britain abstained from a vote granting Palestinians observer status at the UN.

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