UK's recognition of Palestine strains Israeli-British ties

Ghada Atef, Tuesday 14 Oct 2014

Israeli embassy in London says Monday's move by UK Parliament to recognise Palestine 'undermines' two-state solution

UK Parliament
UK Parliament votes to recognise Palestine, Oct. 13, 2014 (Photo courtesy of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in UK)

Israel's embassy in London has denounced the UK Parliament's recognition of the Palestinian state as "premature" and an affront to a two-state solution.

In a statement issued on Tuesday morning, a day after the motion was approved in Parliament, the embassy said the move "undermines the very concept of two states for two peoples."

A debate took place on Monday in the House of Commons after MPs Grahame Morris, Crispin Blunt, Sir Bob Russell, Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn made representations to Parliament to recognise the state of Palestine, according to a statement on the UK Parliament's website.

MPs voted 274 to 12 to approve the amended symbolic motion, which said the "House believes that the government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution," according to the statement.

Israel said the recognition fails to address real obstacles to peace, as well as "the need for genuine security arrangements to prevent further mass attacks on Israeli civilians."

Matthew Gould, the British ambassador to Israel, said on Tuesday in an interview with Israeli Public Radio that the approval in Parliament was "effected" by this summer's Israeli assault in Gaza, which left over 2,000 Palestinians dead, as well as the latest announcement of more Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Gould also told the Jerusalem Post that a continued freeze in the Palestinian-Israeli situation "could have a negative consequence" on the future of UK-Israeli relations.

UK is the second-largest European country to recognise Palestine statehood, after Sweden on 3 October. Israel summoned the Swedish ambassador in Tel Aviv over the move.

Meanwhile, Hanan Ashrawy, executive member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, said in a statement to the press on Tuesday that the UK's symbolic recognition would reflect real public opinion over the issue, Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Since the PLO first declared Palestinian statehood in 1988 at an Arab Summit in Algeria, 134 of 193 United Nations member states have recognised the state of Palestine.

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