Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West, has tabled a private member’s bill to recognise the State of Palestine – though it stands little chance of being debated and even less of being passed.
The draft law was presented under the Commons Standing Order 57 which goes to the back of the queue of private members’ Bills and cannot normally be debated until all the others have been voted on. That is unlikely to happen.
The Bill has cross-party support from Labour, SNP, Plaid and Green MPs as well as Liberal Democrats and its sponsor, Layla Moran is the first British MP of Palestinian descent.
The House of Commons voted in favour of the recognition of Palestine by 274 votes to 12 in a backbench business debate in October 2014, but despite the overwhelming majority David Cameron refused to give it Government support.
The UK has been committed to recognising a state of Palestine “in principle” since 2012 when the Foreign Secretary William Hague said Palestine was “fit for statehood” and promised recognition – but “at a time of the Government’s choosing”.
Foreign Office minister have stated dozens of times in the Commons that they are still committed to recognition – but are waiting for the time when it will do most to help the peace process.
Middle East minister Alistair Burt seemed to fall short of repeating this pledge in his answer in the Commons, when he said: “The recognition of Palestine remains a matter for the United Kingdom’s judgment in the best interests of peace and the peace process, and we hold to that.”
Over 130 of the United Nations’ 193 states already recognise Palestine and most of the countries still refusing recognition are in western Europe. The UN itself recognises Palestine as a state though not a member, its application to join having been refused as the result of a Security Council veto from the United States.