The Labour Party is facing growing opposition to its support for today’s vote urging the recognition of a Palestinian state after two parliamentary candidates insisted they wouldn’t back the motion.
MPs will later take part in a backbench business debate to discuss the motion: “The thia House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.” The additional words “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution” have been added in an ammendment proposed by a cross-party group of MPs including former foreign secretary Jack Straw.
The Labour Party is not copelling its MPs to attend the vote but is compelling them to back the motion should they vote. The decision has provoked anger among supporters of Israel, with several shadow cabinet ministers and shadow ministers expected to steer clear of the vote amid claims it marks a chnage in long-standing Labour policy.
While none of that frontbench team have yet gone on record with their opposition, Labour’s 2015 candidates for Hendon and Finchley and Golders Green have spoken out tis morning.
Andrew Dismore, who is hoping to reclaim the Hendon seat from the Conservatives next year, said he would vote against the motion – which would be likely to risk disciplinary action.
“Like many Labour MPs, including from the front bench, I see the backbench debate and vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state as a premature and pointless gesture, which even with the amendment will not help bring about progress towards the two state solution we wish to see.
“If I had still been an MP I would have been arguing against this policy and would vote against this motion, irrespective of whether it is a whipped vote or not. Voting for this unilateral motion in the near immediate aftermath of the Gaza war provides a victory for Hamas who have no interest in a two state solution.” He said he wanted to see recognition of a Palestinian state but only when a settlement “has been reached or is very close” and urged both sides to return to talks.
Sarah Sackman, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate in Finchley and Golders Green, added: “If I were an MP I could not support the motion in its original form. Unilateral announcements and votes in the UK are not going to achieve a two state solution and they are not going to progress substantive talks which are necessary to bring about a lasting peace deal between Israel and Palestinian people.”
She added: “When I met with leaders from the Israeli Labor Party, Yitzhak Herzog and Hilik Bar, on my visit to Israel in September they impressed upon me the urgent need for direct negotiations with the Palestinians but also the fact that unilateral announcements could play into the hands of those on Israel’s right who oppose a two state solution.”
Community leaders have submitted a letter to The Telegraph stressing “full” support for a state of Palestine achieved through negotiations.
Signed by the Zionist Federation, Jewish Leadership Council, BICOM and Board of Deputies,it urges MPs to “ensure that the weight and authority of the Commons remains behind encouraging a negotiated and lasting peace, rather than supporting steps that might make peace more difficult to secure”.