British MPs expected to vote on whether to recognize the Palestinian State
British MPs are expected on Monday to vote on whether or not to recognize the Palestinian State, although Labor leader Ed Miliband, faced by a rebellion across the party, has been forced to backtrack on plans to require his MPs to follow a three line whip to support recognition, The Guardian reported.
Almost two dozen MPs who support Israel have tabled an amendment calling for the formation of a state only after a formal peace deal between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority.
It is not clear what amendments will be accepted by the Speaker John Bercow.
The vote either way will be entirely symbolic, but may be taken as a sign of the extent to which Israel is losing the battle for public opinion in the UK.
A large number of Labor MPs have now been given permission to stay away from Westminster for the vote rendering the three line whip largely meaningless. Miliband was forced to revise his position after high level protests that carefully constructed Labor foreign policy towards Israel was being determined on the basis of a backbench Commons motion tabled by the backbench Labor MP Grahame Morris.
More than 130 countries already recognize Palestine, but the Foreign Office will not be bound by the result of the expression of opinion by MPs. Russia has recently said it will also recognize Palestine.
The policy at the moment, set out by the former foreign secretary William Hague, is that the UK "reserves the right to recognize a Palestinian state bilaterally at the moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace".
Support for recognition of Palestine runs high in the Labor party as the only way forward after the break down of peace talks led by US secretary of state John Kerry and the subsequent fighting between Israel and Gaza. The UK government refused to condemn the Israeli response to rocket attacks from Gaza as disproportionate.
But in a statement, the Labor Friends of Israel director, Jenny Gerber, warned : "A unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state may make negotiations less likely to occur as the Palestinian Authority will have less motivation to enter talks to begin with."
Sir Alan Duncan, the former international development minister, said it was shaming that Britain had not taken on its moral responsibility to recognize Palestine. "What is it about Palestine that stops the decent world saying that they are entitled to be a country like any other?" he said. He told Sky News: "We recognized Israel in 1948 after a rather nasty civil war there and now for too long Palestine has been occupied, they are living a miserable life, the Israelis illegally are continuing bit by bit to build on land which is not theirs and it is high time the world recognized Palestine as 134 out of about 160 countries have already done in the United Nations."
Baroness Warsi, the former Conservative foreign officer minister, told the Observer: "There is a lack of political will and our moral compass is missing. There are no negotiations, there is no show in town. Somehow we have to breathe new life into these negotiations, and one of the ways we can do that is by recognizing the state of Palestine."
The UN general assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012, but the European Union and most EU countries, including Britain, have yet to give official recognition.
"We continue to believe that negotiations toward a two-state solution are the best route to meeting Palestinian aspirations in reality and on the ground," a Foreign Office spokesman said.