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UK Labour leadership candidate denounces Palestine recognition

Liz Kendall, running for head of main opposition party, calls Parliament’s 2014 vote the wrong move

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Candidate Liz Kendall speaks at an event in 2014. (daliscar1/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Candidate Liz Kendall speaks at an event in 2014. (daliscar1/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

UK Labour Party leadership candidate Liz Kendall spoke out Tuesday against Parliament’s call for the United Kingdom government to recognize the State of Palestine in October 2014, saying it was “not the right thing to do,” the Independent reported.

Leicester MP Kendall, who is running to replace Ed Miliband after he stepped down following the party’s defeat in the March elections, spoke at a town hall meeting, hosted by the British Jewish Chronicle newspaper.

“The question asked about hostility [between the Labour Party and the Jewish community] and I think that really did come to a crunch in the vote on the House of Commons on recognizing the Palestinian state,” she said.

The original motion that was debated in 2014 declared: “This House urges the government to recognize the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel.”

It was subsequently amended to add the phrase “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

British lawmakers in the House of Commons passed the motion to officially recognize Palestine resoundingly last year — 274 votes in favor, 12 opposed — in a move that did not change government policy, but which was laden with political symbolism.

The Jewish Miliband, who was the party leader and head of the opposition at the time, voted in support of the motion.

Ed Miliband, leader of Britain's opposition party, the Labour Party, delivers a speech on the economy at the University of London in January 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
Ed Miliband, leader of Britain’s opposition party, the Labour Party, delivers a speech on the economy at the University of London in January 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

But his would-be replacement Kendall abstained from the vote, and told the crowd that it was not something a “responsible opposition” should have done, according to local news sources.

“The way we achieve peace is through a two-state solution and negotiation, not through passing resolutions in the House of Commons or the United Nations,” she added.

As of October 2014, some 135 countries recognized the State of Palestine. Despite the House of Commons vote, which called for official recognition, the UK does not acknowledge the existence of such a state.

Kendall and two other candidates at the event — Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper — also came out against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

MP Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the 'No More War' event in Parliament Square in 2014 (Hej JMaill, CC-BY, via wikipedia)
MP Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a ‘No More War’ event in Parliament Square in 2014 (Hej JMaill, CC-BY, via wikipedia)

However, the fourth candidate at the event, Jeremy Corbyn, called for an arms embargo against Israel and a boycott of products coming out of West Bank settlements. The UK removed restrictions on arms sales to Israel last week following a year-long review of the use of British-made weapons in last summer’s Gaza war.

The election for leader of the center-left party will open on August 14 and the ballot will close on September 10.

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