LONDON (AFP) – British lawmakers voted over-whelmingly in favour of recognising Palestine as a state on Monday, in a non-binding motion heavy with symbolism but unlikely to change government policy.
The motion was passed by 274 in favour to 12 votes against, to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.
The heated debate in the House of Commons was watched around the world, and could have diplomatic implications, bolstering a campaign by Palestinian authorities for recognition.
It comes after the Swedish government an-nounced it would recognise a Palestinian state – it would be the first EU member in Western Europe to do so – drawing anger from Israel.
The British government is not bound to act on the motion, as it was initiated by a backbencher from the opposition Labour Party, and said it would only recognise a Palestinian state at the appropriate moment.
“The aspirations of the Palestinian people cannot be fully realised until there is an end to the occupation… and we believe this will only come through negotiations,” said Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood.
“Only an end to the occupation will ensure that Palestinian statehood becomes a reality on the ground.
“The UK will bilaterally recognise a Palestinian state when we judge that it can best help bring about the peace.”A