LONDON (AA) – A British Jewish lawmaker has branded the government “cowardly” after it abstained from the vote on Palestinian statehood.
Speaking with the Anadolu Agency on Wednesday, Gerald Kaufman accused the government of running away from the debate in “a very cowardly way.”
“Members of the government and conservative backbenchers were instructed not to vote, which was a very cowardly thing to do,” he said.
The Conservative Party and governing coalition partner the Liberal Democrats are reported to have told their ministers to abstain from Monday’s vote on Palestine statehood recognition.
The 84-year-old – an opposition Labour Party politician, who has been a Member of Parliament since 1970 – told AA that he thought that if a Labour government was elected that official Palestine recognition would “grow exponentially.”
“People like me will give a Labour government no peace until they recognize Palestine,” Kaufman told AA.
Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband voted for the motion, while Prime Minister David Cameron and conservative ministers abstained.
Kaufman said that the way the government had dealt with Israel was “contemptible.”
“They have been contemptible in their failure to take action against the huge Israeli spread of settlements, and they are contemptible because of the way did nothing to stop the terrible attack by the Israelis on Gaza that killed more than 2000 innocent people,” he said.
“We have a dreadful government, but even a dreadful government can’t completely ignore this [vote] because it is a decision of the House of Commons.”
Kaufman – who has a long-standing record of opposing Israel, even though he was raised an orthodox Jew and Zionist – accused the government of being in the “pockets of pro-Israeli organizations.”
“That’s why it’s so important that they didn’t have the courage to oppose the motion, they knew that it would be going too far, even for their cowardly and contemptible approach to this issue.”
The lawmaker told AA that he thought there was more support for Palestinians in Britain than ever before, and although Palestine would not be a major issue at the general election next year, it would be “a” factor.
Following Monday’s vote, Israel’s government and embassy in London released statements condemning the lawmakers’ decision.
“There should be no illusion that a unilateral call for premature recognition of Palestine advances peace in any way whatsoever,” said the embassy. “Sending a message to Palestinians that they do not need to make hard choices for peace, and to Israelis that their concerns are of no import, only undermines the efforts of those working to bring about a real and lasting change.”
Kaufman said that the more things happen that annoy and anger Israel’s embassy or government, the better for him.
“It’s a terrible government and the worst government Israel has had,” he said. “The more they’re annoyed, the better for me.”
Late Monday, British lawmakers voted to recognize Palestine as a state in a historical symbolic move that called “on the government to recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.
A total of 274 members of parliament voted for the non-binding motion, with only 12 voting against.