The recognition of new States at international law: UK Parliament passes motion on Palestine

When it comes to questions of recognition, “..there is probably no other subject in the field of international relations in which law and politics appear to be more closely interwoven.” (Hersch Lauterpacht, 1947)

The Motion

On 13 October 2014 a backbench motion passed in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom (UK). The motion, put forward by Member of Parliament (MP) Grahame Morris, stated after amendment:

That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.

The number of votes cast represented less than half of all MPs (650 in all) but among those who voted the motion passed by a wide margin: 274 to 12. The recognition of States is within the purview of the executive branch as a discretionary power of the Crown and the vote does not bind the government of the UK. Current UK policy is to reserve “…the right to recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally at the moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace“.

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