British politicians back Palestinian statehood in landmark vote

Published October 13th, 2014 - 10:40 GMT

Lower level British politicians have voted by 274 to 12 in favour of recognizing Palestine as a state Monday.

During a three-hour heated debate in the House of Commons, Labour MP Grahame Morris who put forward the motion, called the vote “symbolically important” and urged fellow politicians to create equality between Israel and Palestine.

While British Prime Minister David Cameron abstained from voting, Conservative backbenchers such as Tobias Ellwood who is married to an Israeli, said it wasn’t the right time to have such a vote and that “Israel lives in a tough neighbourhood.”

In defense of the vote, Labour MP Andrew Slaughter argued: “Who can defend settlement building, colonization of another country and 600,000 Israeli settlers planted on Palestinian soil?”

Though largely symbolic, the motion comes 10 days after Sweden’s newly elected center-left government voted to officially recognize Palestine as an independent state.

Britain’s shadow foreign minister Ian Lucas said recognition of Palestine wasn’t an alternative to dialogues but “a bridge for beginning them.”

The UN General Assembly voted in 2012 to upgrade Palestine’s status to a non-member observer state with 138 countries in favour and 41 including the UK and U.S. abstaining.

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