The North East MP leading calls for the recognition of Palestine as an independent state has claimed the UK has an historic responsibility to help bring peace to the region.
Grahame Morris, Labour MP for Easington, led debate at Westminster last night as the Commons returned following the party conference season.
He proposed a motion calling on the Government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.
Mr Morris pointed out that the UK had been heavily involved in events leading up to the partition of Palestine in 1947, which led to the creation of Israel and was supposed to lead to the creation of a Palestinian state too.
Despite numerous UN resolutions the Palestinians still do not have their own state. Territory regarded by the United Nations as belonging to a future independent Palestine has been occupied or effectively controlled first by Jordan and Egypt and, since 1967, by Israel.
Conflict between Israel and militant Palestinian group Hamas in July and August this year led to the death of more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza, one of the occupied Palestinian territories.
But calls for the UK to recognise Palestine were opposed by some Labour MPs, who said formal recognition should be delayed until “the conclusion of successful peace negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority”.
Conservatives were also divided, with some backing Mr Morris’ motion while others supported an amendment calling for delay.
Mr Morris said: “Britain has an historic role in this.
“It isn’t peace at the moment. We are in a permanent state where we have this annexation of Palestinian land by Israel. There is a flagrant disregard of international law, of United Nations resolutions.
“We have to give those Palestinians of goodwill who are seeking a negotiated settlement through peaceful means every encouragement, because if we don’t we are playing into the hands of those who would use violent means to achieve their ends.”
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians had been going on in some form since the Oslo accords in 1993 but very little progress had been made, he said.
But talks could be more successful if both parties had the same status.
“The truth is that Israel holds all the cards, but recognition may break the impasse.
“Billions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money goes in to supporting the international agencies that are supporting the Palestinians during the course of this occupation.
“Because of this, and because of our status - internationally on the world stage as a permanent member of the UN security council and due to our membership of the EU - I think we have a direct interest and a moral obligation to do the right thing and recognise Palestinian statehood.”
Recognising Palestine would also benefit Israel by making a peace agreement based on two states with recognised borders more likely, he said.
Downing Street said the Government’s position would not be changing as a result of the vote.
David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “The Government’s position is very clear and hasn’t changed, so I think that is a very clear indication of the British Government’s approach.
“The Government’s approach is a long-standing one and is in support of a two-state solution and we will continue to work with a range of international partners - Israel, the Palestinian Authority - in support of that.”