On Monday, Members of Britain’s Parliament voted, 274 to 12, to give diplomatic recognition to a Palestinian state. After passing the non-binding motion, lawmakers from Britain’s lower house released a statement saying:
“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.”
According to The Guardian, the vote took place following “intensive lobbying” from supporters on both sides. The case in favor of recognition lobbied that Britain “should follow 135 of the UN’s 193 member states and recognize Palestinian statehood,” while the case against argued that recognizing Palestine as a state would show “prejudice,” and would affect “the outcome of future negotiations between the two parties.”
At the debate, the leader of the group, Labor Friends of Palestine, Grahame Morris, spoke in favor of the ruling. He said that this “small but symbolically important step” of recognition was a “historic opportunity” for Britain.
Morris claimed that making Britain’s recognition of Palestine “dependent on Israel’s agreement,” would give Israel a “veto over Palestinian self-determination.”
A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Paul Hirschson, told the New York Times that Britain’s resolution to recognize Palestinian statehood made “conflict resolution much more difficult,” due to the fact that it sent the Palestinians the message that “they can achieve things” outside of negotiations.
The chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Ottaway, said that although he normally “stood by Israel through thick and thin,” he now realized, after looking back over the past 20 years that Israel “has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion.”
“Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight,” said Ottaway. “But such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”