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British Muslim groups launch campaign over UK parliament debate on Palestine recognition

Muslim Association of Britain and Friends of Al-Aqsa launch a campaign to push British MPs to participate in debate over Palestinian statehood

Ahram Online in London, Friday 10 Oct 2014
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British influential Muslim organisations have launched a campaign to pressure the members of the House of Commons to attend a highly anticipated parliamentary debate on the recognition of Palestine.

Next Monday, the UK Parliament will debate and potentially vote on a motion which calls on the British government to recognise the Palestinian state.

The motion, put forth by Labour Member of Parliament Grahame Morris on behalf of a number of all MPs, says “this House believes that the government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel."

The move in the UK Parliament comes about 10 days after Sweden has announced that it will recognise the state of Palestine.

On 3 October, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said in his inaugural to parliament that "the conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution."

The Muslim Association of Britain and Friends of Al-Aqsa are two British Muslim organisations calling on voters to ask their MPs to attend the debate and vote yes in the potential vote.

The two organisations are sending emails advising voters to “ask your MP to recognise Palestine as a state.”

MPs do not have to attend the debate and the possible vote is not binding on the current government.

“A parliamentary vote to acknowledge a separate and independent Palestinian state would also send a strong signal to the rest of the world that British parliamentarians supported positive action to move towards a two state solution in an attempt to bring the Palestinian – Israeli conflict to a permanent end. Such a vote could place Palestine and Israel on equal footing for the first time in negotiations for lasting peace and security,” the two Muslim organisations said in a joint statement.

It is likely that a high MP turnout could lead to the motion being passed.  

The two organisations expect that MPs could face challenges from those who are critical of the alliance between President Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders Hamas which still not accepted the legitimacy of Israel.

The organisations advise voters to follow the parliamentary debate closely in order to understand their own MPs views on the Palestinian cause.

“You can use the answers MPs provide to make your decision about voting in the General Elections in May 2015,” they said.

The UK government supports the US-proposed two-state solution to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, London rejects any unilateral step and insists that any independent Palestinian state should be agreed upon through negotiations between Israel and Palestine.    

In November 2012, the United Nations assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of recognising Palestine as a non-member state, an action from which the UK abstained and the U.S. and Israel voted against.

The decision was a vindication of the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who struggled against the intransigent Israeli government to establish the State of Palestine, a territory free of occupation and officially recognised by the world.

British MPs are expected to explain that support for a Palestinian state can go ahead without the permission of the Israelis. They will argue that in 1950, the UK recognised Israeli state without permission from the Palestinians and that such recognition would accelerate the peace talks.

 They also will stress the need to avoid another armed conflict between the two sides after world condemnation of the Israeli bombing raids on Gaza this past summer.

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