Palestine UN bid backing refused
Recognition of a Palestinian state should come as the result of negotiations with Israel, the Government has said as ministers refused to commit to backing a bid for United Nations membership.
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said no decision would be taken until the Palestinian Authority had published its proposal for membership of the international organisation.
However he told MPs: "The Government have 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."
The Palestinians will submit a bid for full UN membership at the Security Council on September 23, a move which is likely to be vetoed by the United States.
Veteran Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, whose question on the UK's voting intentions forced Mr Burt to come to the despatch box, warned that a failed bid by the Palestinians would spell the end of the 20-year peace process.
Mr Burt said: "The Palestinian leadership has yet to submit any application to the United Nations. If and when an application is received, we will make a decision how to respond. Without knowing the content of any such application, it would be premature to speculate on what the Government's response might be."
He said the Arab Spring should lead to a redoubling of efforts in the peace process, which should not be allowed to "limp along indefinitely".
Mr Burt said there was "no alternative to negotiations" as he restated the UK's view that borders should be drawn along the 1967 lines with agreed swaps of land and a shared Jerusalem.
Sir Gerald warned that a rejection of the Palestinians' application would be treated as a triumph by the Israelis and derail peace talks.
He said: "It would be totally inconsistent to support freedom for the people of Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria and not actively support, by this country's United Nations votes, comparable independence for the people of Palestine who have been waiting 64 years for United Nations decisions to be fulfilled and implemented."