MPs set to argue for a Palestinian state

MPs set to argue for a Palestinian state

The Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament
An Iron Dome air defence system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip in Ashkelon.
An Iron Dome air defence system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza Strip in Ashkelon.

The Government should recognise Palestine as a state alongside Israel, MPs will argue today.

Huge public desire exists across the UK for the issue to be aired, according to the proposer of the debate, in what is considered to be the first lengthy talks on the issue in Parliament since 2012.

It follows the collapse of peace talks between Israel and Palestine and a summer conflict in Gaza, which claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians as well as 70 Israelis.

A motion before MPs urges them to support the view that the Government should recognise Palestine as a state, although an amendment suggests this step should be taken once peace negotiations have successfully concluded.

Former international development minister Sir Alan Duncan yesterday declared that Britain has an “historic and moral duty” to recognise Palestine, adding shame had been brought on the UK by its decision to stand back from taking a decision.

A vote on the issue is likely to cause a split among the parties.

Presenting his bid to debate the issue in the Commons, Labour’s Grahame Morris (Easington) told the Backbench Business Committee last month: “I do think it is important that Parliament has an opportunity to express its will.

“The last time we actually had a full debate on the issue was back in 2012. This is in relation to the recognition of the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.

“Can I just point out respectfully to the committee that a lot has happened since we made the original bid?

“The Kerry-led negotiations have collapsed. We know that Gaza has been left devastated by the consequences of the conflict. We have seen the biggest annexation of Palestinian land in the west bank for 30 years.

“There have been enormous protests, not just in London, but all across the UK – demonstrations, large public gatherings, meetings and protests.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says that more than half the correspondence it receives is on this issue.

“The e-petition that initiated our initial bid has gained more than 111,000 signatures and there are a number of other similar e-petitions on issues specifically related to this that have gained tens of thousands of signatures in a relatively small space of time.

“There is a huge public desire across the UK for MPs to debate the issue and discuss the conflict.”

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