British MPs under pressure to back Palestinian rights
Ahram Online in London, Sunday 23 Nov 2014
Online petition from UK citizens asked MPs to help solve Israel-Palestine conflict

Pro-Palestine groups in the UK have intensified lobbying efforts to members of the House of Commons ahead of a highly anticipated parliamentary debate on Palestinian rights.

In a rare move, the House will debate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on 1 December.

The debate comes in response to an e-petition signed by more 124,000 British citizens, asking their government to help solve the conflict.

"As the UK government is a part of the G8, it is vital that they work towards a peace treaty in the Middle East in order to help save lives and build a sustainable community," the online petition said.

As such, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has intensified its efforts to push MPs to take part in the debate.

"We want to make sure as many MPs as possible are asked to speak up for Palestinian human rights," PSC said.

The organisation, the biggest and most influential group campaigning in the west for Palestinians' rights, is sending emails and leaflets to voters urging them to ask their MPs to attend the debate.

PSC has asked MPs to call on the UK government to put pressure on Israel to de-escalate the tension in East Jerusalem by "stopping demolishing Palestinians' homes and violently repressing legitimate protests."

The MPs have been also urged to call for an arms embargo on Israel.

"While Israel is using equipment and weapons for internal repression, no arms export licences should be granted to or from Israel," the group said.

The PSC and other anti-Israel organisations are pressuring the government to block trade with Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands. They argue that as long as the UK government sees Israeli settlements in Palestine as illegal and an obstacle to peace, there should actions to stop the entry of settlement goods into the UK markets.

The parliament debate comes about six weeks after British MPs voted in favour of recognizing Palestine as a state alongside Israel.

On 13 October, the House of Commons backed the move "as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution."

The voting result was 274 to 12, but the resolution was not binding to the government.

Less than half of MPs took part in the vote.

The UK government says it "reserves the right to recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally at the moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace."