Former Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi has called for the Government to set out its criteria for recognising a Palestinian state.
Speaking for the first time in the House of Lords since she quit her post over the Government’s “morally indefensible” policy on Gaza, Lady Warsi called for ministers to respond to MPs voting overwhelmingly in favour of a Palestinian state.
The House of Commons voted by 274 to 12 on Monday in favour of urging the Government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel”.
Lady Warsi asked her replacement as a Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay of St Johns: “Could you detail to the House the specific conditions or criteria that would need to be met for this Government to recognise the state of Palestine?”
Warsi continues: “And what is the Government’s response to the overwhelming vote that we saw in the House of Commons for recognition on Monday?”
Lady Warsi, who resigned from the Government in August, was greeted by loud cheers, mostly from Labour peers, as she stood up to speak at question time.
Lady Anelay told her that the UK was committed to seeing an independent Palestinian state at the right time.
She said: “A negotiated end to the occupation is the best way to meet Palestinian aspirations on the ground.
Anelay continues to highlight that “The vote showed the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is urgent and we agree with that. The issue is and will remain a foreign policy priority for the UK but we need to judge when it is right to take that decision.
“Clearly you judge criteria on a fluid system – you watch, you wait, you encourage the Middle East peace process to continue but one doesn’t give up.”
Labour’s Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale said: “A premature and unilateral declaration of recognition would not only not aid the peace process in the Middle East towards a two-state solution but would in fact appear to be rewarding Hamas – a terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel and rains thousands of rockets down on a civilian population.
Lady Anelay replied: “I entirely agree.”
Independent crossbench peer Baroness Deech, a strong supporter of Israel, asked: “Do you acknowledge that were a state of Palestine to be recognised, the Palestinian residents within it, who are there now, would cease to be refugees and those Palestinian living in other countries would have a right of return and cease to be refugees and the refugee problem would be ended.”
Lady Anelay said it would depend how a future state was created and there was “more complexity” in the issue.
Lady Warsi later criticised Lady Anelay’s answer to her question.
She said on Twitter: “Sadly got ‘stock answer’, ignored Mondays vote.”