16 Sep 2011 16:01:22

Alistair Burt refuses to be drawn on whether the Government would support a Palestinian statehood bid

By Joseph Willits 
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Burt In an over-subscribed Urgent Question debate in the Commons yesterday, on the Palestinian statehood bid, foreign office minister Alistair Burt (standing in for Hague who was in Libya) refused to be drawn on whether the government would officially support a Palestinian bid for UN membership.

On Tuesday, ConservativeHome reported that only 2 Tory MPs, Nicholas Soames and Sir Peter Bottomley had signed an Early Day Motion in favour of a Palestinian state.  Upon writing this, the number had increased to four Tory MPs, with Julian Brazier and Eleanor Laing adding their signatures.

The hesitancy with which Tory MPs are having putting their name to the EDM, bears resemblance to the government's caution, because of fears that the bid could ruin the peace process.  Alistair Burt stated that it would be "premature to speculate on what the Government’s response might be" before any proposal for membership had been published.  Burt also stressed it was "vital that any action in the UN does nothing to endanger the prospect of talks".

Following on from the Arab Spring "the world can no longer claim that change in the Middle East will come slowly and incrementally, or allow the middle east peace process to limp along indefinitely, as it has done", said Burt. Any resolution made between the Israelis and Palestinians, he said, is seemingly "more significant" in relation to events of the Arab Spring.

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14 Sep 2011 13:57:57

Nicholas Soames and Sir Peter Bottomley are the only Tory MPs to support EDM in favour of Palestinian statehood

By Joseph Willits 
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Nicholas Soames and Sir Peter Bottomley are the only Tory MPs who have signed an Early Day Motion supporting Palestinian membership of the United Nations. The EDM, tabled by Labour MP Ann Clywd on 5th September, has gained 79 signatures, mostly from within the Labour Party.

The premise of the EDM, supporting Palestinian statehood is that:

"the way forward is to recognise an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and support its admission to the UN because this will be the most effective guarantor of a resumption of negotiations and will also be the best protector of the rights not only of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, but also of Palestinians living in Israel and of Palestinian refugees abroad"

Former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has also added his name to the list - only the second time he has signed an EDM since leaving government, and his first this year.

Another Conservative MP, Robert Halfon, proposed an amendment to the EDM on the 7th September, calling for a "clear distinction" to "be drawn between moderate Palestinians such as those in the West Bank who are seeking a peaceful two state solution and terrorist groups in Gaza such as Hamas."

The amendment was proposed in light of comments by Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas in the Gaza strip, condemning the killing of Osama bin Laden, who he described as an "Arab holy warrior". Halfon's proposal states that only those areas of Palestine which "renounce terrorism, should be considered for statehood. Another Tory MP, David Amess, has signed in favour of such an amendment.

You can read the full details of the Early Day Motion, and list of signatures here.