BISHOPS from both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic
Church have supported a vote by MPs on Monday to recognise
Palestine as a state.
In a joint statement before the vote, the Bishop of Coventry,
the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, and the RC Bishop of Clifton,
the Rt Revd Declan Lang, said that recognition of Palestine would
help bring peace to the region.
"We believe that the right of Palestinians for such statehood
has been long overdue. Given the benchmarks established by
international law and universal legitimacy, and in light of the
support offered by the Christian Church in the Holy Land, we
believe Palestinians should also have a state that they can at long
last call home."
The motion was backed in the House of Commons by 274 to 12, but
is purely symbolic and not binding on the Government, which
continues to argue that such recognition is premature. Labour Party
MPs were ordered to vote in favour, but more than half of all MPs
did not attend the debate.
A letter urging recognition was sent to parliament on the eve of
the vote by more than 100 Palestinian Church leaders, including
former Latin and Greek Orthodox Patriarchs.
"Christians have a duty to resist oppression," the letter
stated. "Ending Israeli occupation is the only way for
Palestinians, Christians, and Muslims, to enjoy a life of
prosperity and progress. It is also the surest way to secure
continued Christian presence in this, our Holy Land."
The chief executive of Christian charity Embrace the Middle
East, Jeremy Moodey, said in a statement the Government should not
ignore the result of the vote: "Britain has done much to contribute
to the current mess . . . [including] this current Government's
near unqualified support for Israel. Some 64 years after we
recognised Israel, the British Parliament has now finally
acknowledged that Palestinians are entitled to their own