Israel says UK vote on Palestine undermines peace

British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) shakes hands with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu. (File photo: Reuters)

Israel warned Tuesday that a vote by British parliament in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state risked undermining the prospects for peace.

“Premature international recognition sends a troubling message to the Palestinian leadership that they can evade the tough choices that both sides have to make, and actually undermines the chances to reach a real peace,” said a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry.

British lawmakers on Monday voted 274 to 12 in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state, a result that experts say is largely symbolic.

The motion - which is non-binding - was passed by 274 in favor to 12 votes against, to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” as part of a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

The motion comes only a week after Sweden’s new center-left government is set to officially recognize Palestine – a move that has been condemned by Israel, which says an independent Palestine can only be achieved through negotiations.

UK British Prime Minister David Cameron abstained from the parliamentary vote, his spokesman said earlier.

In addition to Cameron, the government was also asking ministers to not take part, the spokesman said.

The UK premier’s decision not to vote was no surprise, due to his party’s not having a strict line on the issue of Palestinian statehood, Chris Doyle, the director of the London-based advocacy group Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) said earlier on Monday.

“He knows that he doesn’t really have to vote. The government has not issued a three-line [strict instruction to attend and vote] whip on this, so the Conservatives effectively have a free vote,” Doyle told Al Arabiya News.


Meanwhile on Tuesday, a mosque was set alight in a suspected arson attack in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and the name of an Israeli vigilante group called “price tag” was found scribbled on an outside wall, Palestinian officials and witnesses told Reuters news agency.

Israeli police said they were investigating the incident, which took place in Aqraba, a village east of Nablus.

Residents told Reuters they noticed smoke coming from the building before dawn and rushed to douse the flames, which damaged a carpet and blackened one of the walls.

“If we hadn't rushed to put out the fire the entire building could have gone up in flames,” said Maher Fares, a villager.

(With AFP and Reuters)
 

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Last Update: 07:13 KSA 10:13 - GMT 07:13
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