Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Thursday, 15 September 2011 13:01 UK

Urgent question: Palestinian statehood bid

The government has refused to be drawn on whether it will back a Palestinian bid for UN membership, telling the House of Commons that recognition of a Palestinian state should come as a result of comprehensive negotiations with Israel.

Responding to an urgent question on 15 September 2011, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said no decision would be taken until the Palestinian Authority had published its proposal for membership.

But Labour MP Gerald Kauffman, who tabled the question on the UK's voting intentions, said Britain should "stand up and put its hand up" for the Palestinian statehood bid, warning that a failed bid would spell the end of the 20 year-long peace process.

Later this month Palestinian officials will ask for international recognition based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as a capital. Israel says doing so would undermine negotiations towards a two-state solution

MPs were split across party lines on what the government's position should be if there was a vote next week at the UN.

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell claimed Britain's influence and reputation would be substantially diminished "if we do not show a positive response to [the Palestinians] approach".

Conservative MP Andrew Percy warned that the move could be used "as a battering ram for those who seek the de-legitimisation of the state of Israel".

Shadow foreign minister Stephen Twigg said Labour had "long-supported" a two-state solution.

"We will judge any moves made at the UN next week... on the basis of what contribution they can make to securing meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to achieve a comprehensive agreement," he added.

Mr Burt said the government had "always been clear about its recognition of a Palestinian state at the conclusion of a process of negotiation between the parties in which mutual security has been guaranteed.

"We see no reason to move from that position because anything else would threaten the compromise and the security position we are all looking to achieve."


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