British lawmaker quit Parliament position to vote on Palestine motion

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A British lawmaker resigned his position as a parliamentary private secretary in order to vote on a non-binding motion recognizing the State of Palestine.

Mike Freer, who represents the largely Jewish-populated districts of Finchley and Golders Green, resigned as parliamentary private secretary to business minister Nick Boles of the Conservative party in order to vote on Monday evening. He was one of 12 lawmakers to oppose the motion, which passed with 274 votes. More than 300 members of the House of Commons did not appear at Parliament to vote on the measure.

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Ministers and private secretaries are required by protocol to abstain from votes on motions put forward by the opposition shadow government.

“It would have been easy to hide behind the protocol but the two-state solution we all want to see should be the end not start of the process. The Government had to follow the protocol but the irony is that I had to resign to support government policy,” he told the Jewish News website.

It’s an issue I feel strongly about and it was the right thing to do for my constituents. I’ve been a supporter of Israel and the two-state solution long before getting involved with Finchley and Golders Green. This decision was rooted in my personal beliefs, not just the constituency.”

Prime Minister David Cameron and much of his Conservative Party abstained from voting on the motion, which was sponsored by opposition Labor lawmaker Grahame Morris.

Jewish lawmaker Ed Miliband, who heads Labor, ordered all party lawmakers to vote in favor of the recognition.

The vote has no practical significance, as the British government is not obliged to change its policy on recognizing Palestine only after a peace deal is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.