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Bishops welcome MPs' vote on Palestine

17 October 2014


Holy Land: a Palestinian man stands above a village on the outskirts of Bethlehem 

Holy Land: a Palestinian man stands above a village on the outskirts of Bethlehem 

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 state."

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