Christian Aid has called on the British Government not to oppose UN recognition of a Palestinian state.
The issue will be raised at the UN tomorrow when the Palestinian Authority will seek to have its status there upgraded to “non-member observer state”, similar to that held by the Vatican.
The UK suggested that it might back the bid, albeit with conditions attached. Today in parliament the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, made it clear that without Palestinian acceptance of those conditions the UK will abstain.
William Bell, Christian Aid’s advocacy officer for Israel and the Palestinians said: ‘Given the recent tragic consequences in Gaza of both a lack of meaningful peace negotiations and accountability, it is a shame that the UK Government cannot give unequivocal support to the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and redress to the law.’
In line with the internationally supported two-state solution, the Palestinians seek to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital – areas occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.
It is expected that a majority of the 193-member UN General Assembly will vote in favour of the Palestinian bid, with US and Israel in a minority opposing the move.
William Bell added: ‘The UK has made it clear that it supports two states, that it considers Israeli settlements as illegal and that it recognises the rights of both peoples to live in peace and security. It is time that the political will was found to move all of those issues from a political stalemate to a new dynamic that the UK is so keen to support elsewhere in the region.
‘We are concerned that the UK Government is imposing conditions on their offer to support the Palestinian Authority bid, including assurances that the Palestinians would not apply for membership of the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice.’
Christian Aid launched an appeal (www.christianaid.org.uk/emergency) last week in response to the mounting humanitarian needs in Gaza and the on-going crisis across the Middle East to support vulnerable communities affected by political instability in the region.
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Notes to Editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around some 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. We believe that the underlying causes of poverty were made by, and can be ended by, human action. Our strategy for building the power of us all to end poverty is embodied in a new report ‘Partnership for Change’: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/2012_strategy.pdf
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 125 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk