Page last updated at 20:52 GMT, Monday, 3 December 2012

Palestine UN resolution debate

On 3 December 2012 peers held a debate on the recent UN vote to upgrade Palestinian status to that of a non-member observer state.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Palestinian bid for increased status on 29 November 2012 - a move strongly opposed by Israel and the US.

The assembly voted 138-9 in favour, with 41 nations, including the UK and Germany, abstaining.

The vote is largely symbolic, but it implicitly recognises a Palestinian state, and allows it to join UN agencies.

Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord King of Bridgwater said he was "disappointed" the UK had abstained in the vote.

"I understand why the foreign secretary made the decision that he did. I have to say I think that the Israeli reaction since has been a real slap in the face for him and others hoping for a more moderate response."

On Monday the UK summoned the Israeli ambassador after Israel vowed not to give in to international pressure to halt plans for 3,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Lord King said he had always supported the state of Israel but added: "I do believe that the current actions of the Israeli government actually imperils the state of Israel itself."

He said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the impression of "not having any intention of ever going forward with a two-state solution".

Liberal Democrat Lord Phillips of Sudbury said the UK government had employed "double standards" towards Israel for "decades", adding that it had "got worse not better".

Ministers must do what they think is right for Israel and the Palestinians even if that means being independent of the United States over its policy towards the peace process, he argued.

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi told the Lords the government was extremely concerned by Israel's plans which would make a two-state solution "increasing difficult to achieve if not impossible".

"This government along with its European partners has consistently made clear that settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties," she said.

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