U.K. Labour Lawmakers Irate Over Forced Palestine Vote

Pro-Israel MPs warn move makes peace less likely; others say move will breathe new life into peace process.

Bloomberg

Members of Britain's Labour Party are fuming over the decision to force them to vote in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state, the Independent reported on Sunday.

British lawmakers are scheduled to hold a symbolic parliamentary vote Monday on whether their government should recognize Palestine. If such a measure passes, it would be non-binding and would not change official policy regarding a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, pro-Israel Labour lawmakers are furious about being forced to vote in favor of recognition, and several of them have tried to persuade party leader Ed Miliband to allow them to vote with their conscience, the Independent reported. Other reports said some would defy their party's orders on the vote.

“To say that there is a row going on it putting it very mildly," one senior pro-Israeli Labour MP told the Independent.

"People are furious. This is an attempt to rip up 13 years of carefully calibrated policy. It's total madness and makes the prospect of peace less rather than more likely.”

The paper noted that the decision on the vote also prompted Israeli Labor lawmakers to write a letter to their British counterparts warning that recognition of Palestine would make peace less likely.

Meanwhile, former Foreign Office Minister Sayeeda Warsi, who resigned over the summer in the wake of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, urged British MPs to recognize Palestine.

"There is a lack of political will and our moral compass is missing,” she told the Observer. “There are no negotiations, there is no show in town," she said. "Somehow we have to breathe new life into these negotiations, and one of the ways we can do that is by recognizing the state of Palestine.”

The debate in Britain comes as Sweden’s government said it would officially recognize Palestine, a move that has been criticized by Israel.

The U.N. General Assembly approved the de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine in 2012, but the European Union and most EU countries, including Britain, have yet to give official recognition.

“We continue to believe that negotiations toward a two-state solution are the best route to meeting Palestinian aspirations in reality and on the ground,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.