Today (13 October 2014), MPs in Westminster voted for a motion, tabled by Grahame Morris MP, calling for recognition of a Palestinian state. 274 voted for the motion; 12 against.
MPs on all sides of the House supported the call for Palestinian statehood, including many Conservatives.
In the event, the ‘no’ campaign attempted to avoid a vote by not putting forward tellers for their side, so Palestine supporting MPs had to act as tellers for the ‘no’ lobby, so that a division could be taken. As Jeremy Corbyn who explained he and Mike Wood (who both supported the motion) acted as tellers to “ensure that democracy could take place and a vote could take place.” Reflecting the strong public interest in the debate, he said this was so constituents could see how their MPs had voted.
Ahead of the vote, more than 57,500 people emailed their MPs, via the PSC email tool, to ask them to vote ‘yes’ for Palestinian recognition. Many MPs received close to 1,000 emails each, including Rushanara Ali, Mike Gapes, Jack Straw, Stephen Timms and Jim Fitzpatrick.
Ahead of the motion, many MPs had declared their support by holding a ‘recognise Palestine’ flag. Impassioned speeches from MPs from across the parties highlighted Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, the shock of seeing Palestinian children in chains at military courts, and the damage done to Britain’s reputation by being seen as a state which is allowing components to be sold which are then used in Israeli weaponry to kill Palestinians. A number of MPs made reference to the strong support for Palestinian rights from their constituents. Images and quotes from the debate were tweeted out via @pscupdates
Hugh Lanning, PSC Chair, said:
‘MPs have been deluged with pressure from their constituents to take action for Palestine. More than 57,500 people used just one of PSC’s e-tools to send a message to their MP, asking them to recognise Palestine. There is overwhelming, and growing, support in Britain for Palestinian rights. Today, British MPs took an important step towards standing up for justice, freedom, and rights for the Palestinian people.
Hugh Lanning continued: ‘Recognising Palestine is an important first step to take to start rectifying Britain’s historic responsibility for Palestinian suffering and dispossession. Palestinian sovereignty is a right, not a bargaining chip to be negotiated with at some stage in the future.
‘Britain does not need the permission of Israel – a state which serially abuses human rights and violates international law – to recognise Palestine. Israel illegally occupies Palestine, has built illegal settlements under cover of negotiations, massacred over 2000 Palestinians this summer and continues to impose a lethal blockade on Gaza. Britain has a historic responsibility, which continues to this current day, for the dispossession and suffering of Palestinians. The vote for Palestine today was a significant first step in addressing this injustice.’