Ex-ministers among Israeli figures urging UK MPs to recognize Palestine
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Ex-ministers among Israeli figures urging UK MPs to recognize Palestine

Some 300 ex-diplomats, former ministers and activists sign letter supporting Labour lawmaker’s non-binding motion to be voted on Monday

Alon Liel served as the Foreign Ministry's director-general from November 2000 until April 2001. Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal is accusing Liel of treason for his encouraging Palestinian statehood recognition. (photo credit: courtesy)
Alon Liel served as the Foreign Ministry's director-general from November 2000 until April 2001. Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal is accusing Liel of treason for his encouraging Palestinian statehood recognition. (photo credit: courtesy)

Over 300 Israeli figures signed a letter Sunday urging the British Parliament to vote in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state on Monday, when a non-binding motion by a Labour MP Grahame Morris is set to be debated.

“We, Israelis who worry and care for the well-being of the state of Israel, believe that the long-term existence and security of Israel depends on the long-term existence and security of a Palestinian state. For this reason we, the undersigned, urge members of the UK parliament to vote in favor of the motion to be debated on Monday 13th October 2014 calling on the British Government to recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel,” the letter reads.

The signatories include an Israeli Nobel Prize winner, several Israel Prize winners, academics, former education minister Yossi Sarid, and former minister of industry and trade Ran Cohen.

Former director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Alon Liel, a former ambassador to South Africa and charge d’affaires to Turkey, is one of the organizers of the letter. Liel has expressed his support for the boycott of products originating in West Bank settlements and cultural boycotts of Israel to protest the lack of a peace process.

Ilan Baruch, a former envoy to Pretoria who in 2011 quit his post claiming he could no longer represent Israel because of its allegedly indefensible policies, is also a signatory.

Later Monday, British lawmakers are set to vote on the motion to recognize a Palestinian state, a move that is being closely watched in the region for signs of shifting attitudes.

“If the vote is a success it would put a tremendous amount of pressure on the current government and the next government, which is likely to be a Labour government, to recognize Palestine as a state,” Morris said in an email.

“The UK recognizing Palestine could give decisive momentum to more EU states following suit,” he said.

“Recognition now would be a clear and legitimate message that Britain and others recognize Palestinian rights and that the illegal settlement enterprise has no validity.”

The move comes after newly-elected Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven earlier this month announced his intention to recognize a Palestinian state, provoking anger in Israel, which summoned the Swedish ambassador. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman also chided Loefven and his government in an op-ed published in a major Swedish newspaper.

Morris’s team said he would have the support of his party as well as some lawmakers from the ruling Conservatives.

An AFP count shows 112 countries have recognized the state of Palestine.

Britain abstained in 2012 from a vote in the United Nations on giving the Palestinians the rank of observer state, which was granted despite opposition from the United States, Israel and other countries.

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