U.K. parliament passes non-binding motion to recognize Palestinian state

In majority of 274-12, Parliament decides to support the motion calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The British parliament voted 274 to 12 in a non-binding motion to recognize the state of Palestine following Monday’s debate that lasted over six hours. The motion has no practical significance, however, since it does not oblige the British government to change its current policy of recognizing Palestine only after a peace deal is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

Outside the Palace of Westminster, a small group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators held a banner saying “Time to start giving back what we had no right to take” – a reference to the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the British government committed itself to establishing a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine. Inside, many of the speakers in the debate, in which over 50 members of parliament asked to participate, mentioned the Balfour Declaration as well, and with it what they saw as Britain’s special responsibility to solving the Israel-Palestine conflict.

At the start of the debate, Speaker John Bercow announced that an amendment proposed by pro-Israel MPs that the recognition of Palestine would be postponed until after a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians has been reached. Pro-Israeli organizations have vigorously lobbied MPs to support the amendment without success. Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Daniel Taub, decided to lower profile and did not give interviews regarding the vote, in an attempt to ensure that no official acknowledgment by Israel would downplay the importance of the vote.

Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, Oct. 14, 2014