UK MPs Vote to Recognize Palestine as Official State

LONDON, October 14, 2014 (WAFA) – In a symbolic and non-binding vote cast on Monday, an overwhelming majority of British members of Parliament favored a motion that calls for the recognition of Palestine as an official state in a contribution for peace.

A total of 274 MPs expressed support for the motion, promoted by MP Grahame Morris, while 12 voted against it.

Morris said during the debate in the House of Commons on Monday, “The evidence of history is why twenty years of negotiations have failed, so we need to move things on. I firmly believe that we can all rally around this effort, and that that would achieve the desired results.”

Following the debate, MPs voted and the motion read, “This House believes that the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

Despite the overwhelming support expressed by MPs ahead of the vote and right after, many politicians decided to abstain, including Prime Minister David Cameron and MP George Galloway, who is known for his support to the Palestinian cause.

Media sources reported on Galloway saying that he will not support the motion to recognize Palestine as a state ‘as doing so would ‘accept’ Israel as one.’

Though the vote is just a symbolic and non-binding gesture that will affect in no way the foreign policy of the country as Cameron said, many believe that such a result is a clear indication of the views and sentiments of the British community.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said that “MPs on all sides of the House supported the call for Palestinian statehood, including many Conservatives.”

In the lead up to that vote, PSC affirmed that more than 57,500 people emailed their MPs to ask them to vote ‘yes’ for recognizing Palestine.

PSC Chair, Hugh Lanning commented, “MPs have been deluged with pressure from their constituents to take action for Palestine.”

He said that there is an “overwhelming, and growing, support in Britain for Palestinian rights,” and that such motion is “an important step towards standing up for justice, freedom, and rights for the Palestinian people.”

While many remain skeptical regarding the true significance of such motion, Lanning said that recognizing Palestine is important, because Britain must rectify its “historic responsibility for Palestinian suffering and dispossession.”

He affirmed that the “Palestinian sovereignty is a right, not a bargaining chip to be negotiated with at some stage in the future.”

Meanwhile, many Palestinians and pro-Palestine activists took to social platforms their rejection or approval of the vote, which in their opinion is more than just a symbolic action, but rather an implication of the way the Palestinian cause is seen in the eyes of the world.

A number of Palestinians rejected the motion as it recognizes Palestine based on the 1967 borders and ignores the historical right in the land that Israel occupied in 1948.

Malaka Mohammed, a Palestinian student from Gaza in the UK said that “recognizing the historic Palestine on the basis of 1948 lands is the right step that should be taken. It is the least the UK government can do after gifting Palestine to Jews through Balfour Declaration 1917.”

She further added, “There are more important issues than passing a motion like this. Palestine is more about the right of return, freeing all political prisoners, demolition of Israeli settlements, ending the occupations and lots more.’

Palestinian writer Ali Abunimeh, said that “The main purpose of the so-called two-state solution is not to restore Palestinian rights, but rather to preserve and recognize Israel’s so-called “right to exist as a Jewish state.”

He wrote, “I do not see recognition of a Palestinian “state” in the context of the so-called two-state solution as anything to celebrate. Indeed, it may well be harmful to Palestinians in the long run.”

Abunimah, and many others, criticized the following amendment of the motion which added the words that this recognition should be done as “a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

However, some Palestinians still see the motion as a “point of departure to fix a historical mistake committed against the Palestinian people.”

Mohammad Najim believes that such a motion has an impact on public opinion more than a shift in governments’ policies.

He stressed, “I do not expect anything significant in the near future.”

Meanwhile on the Palestinian official level, Presidential spokesperson Nabli Abu Rudeineh, in a statement Tuesday, welcomed the vote considering it ‘a step in the right direction to enhance the chances of peace.’

Head of Fateh’s parliamentary faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLO), Azzam Al-Ahmad also said this vote is a step toward awakening the British and international Conscience through taking a moral stand toward the Palestinian people in order to lift the historical injustice that was inflicted upon them.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information issued a press release praising the vote, because it is an important motion despite of its symbolic nature.

The ministry considered the motion a “good step in the right direction” and called on world countries to follow the path taken by both Sweden and UK to end the Israeli occupation, support Palestine and ensure the implementation of international resolutions.

To be noted, the Swedish parliament also voted in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state earlier this month, making it the first European Union country to do so.