MPs are on the verge of backing a historic parliamentary vote that would call on the British government to unilaterally recognise the state of Palestine. Politicians on both sides of the deeply divisive issue believe that the motion will be passed after Ed Miliband instructed his MPs to back it.
The resolution, due to be debated on Monday, also has the support of most Liberal Democrat MPs and a number of Tory backbenchers who have so far been given a free vote on the issue. Government ministers are expected to abstain.
While a vote in favour of Palestinian recognition would only be symbolic and not bind the Government it would nonetheless have profound international implications.
Last week Sweden became the first major EU country to announce that it intended officially to recognise the Palestinian state much to the fury of the Israeli Government, which called in the Swedish ambassador for a public reprimand.
The Israelis have always maintained that recognition should only follow a negotiated agreement between both sides, and it is understood that a senior member of the Israeli cabinet has directly lobbied senior Labour politicians not to back the motion.
Labour’s support for the motion also concerns Israel because it fears it could be a precursor to a future Labour Government following Sweden’s example and recognising Palestine.