Israel’s embassy in London condemned the British Parliament’s symbolic vote for recognizing Palestinian statehood as undermining peace efforts.
The embassy staff posted the statement Monday night on the embassy’s Facebook page after a majority of 274 lawmakers passed a nonbinding motion that called on the government to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”
Twelve lawmakers opposed the motion; Cabinet members of Prime Minister David Cameron abstained.
In its reaction, the embassy wrote: “The route to Palestinian statehood runs through the negotiation room.” It added, “Premature international recognition sends a troubling message to the Palestinian leadership that they can evade the tough choices that both sides have to make, and actually undermines the chances to each a real peace.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization and former Palestinian Authority Cabinet minister, praised the British Parliament for the vote, which she described in a statement as sending “the right message to the British government and the rest of Europe” and creating “the right environment for the international community to grant the Palestinian people legal parity and rights.”
In response to the vote, the Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a statement Monday saying that it and most British Jews support a two-state solution, in line with Israeli and British government policy.
“This evening’s vote was a statement of intent, which says nothing about the timing for recognition of Palestinian statehood,” the board wrote. “We understand, therefore, the desire of some MPs to use it to express their support for a two-states solution, although we are concerned that the vote will be misused to undermine meaningful negotiations.”
During deliberations ahead of the vote, a lawmaker for Cameron’s Conservative Party, Andrew Bridgen, was quoted as suggesting that because of “the power of the Jewish lobby in America, it falls to this country and to this House to be the good but critical friend that Israel needs.” The vote, he wrote, “just might lift that logjam on this very troubled area.”
Jewish lawmaker Ed Miliband, who heads Labor, ordered all party lawmakers to vote in favor of the recognition.
The vote has no practical significance, as the British government is not obliged to change its policy on recognizing Palestine only until a peace deal is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.
Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters before the vote, “I’ve been pretty clear about the government’s position and it won’t be changing.”
Seven European Union members have recognized a Palestinian state. They are Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly accorded Palestine non-member observer state status, de facto recognizing it as a state. Some 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution.