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Palestinian Bid For UN Statehood 'Will Be Backed By British Government'

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The British government is ready to back a Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations if President Mahmoud Abbas agrees not to challenge Israel over alleged war crimes, the Guardian has reported.

Ministers have reportedly indicated they would vote to support Palestine as a non-member observer state, providing the nation commits to peace talks with Israel.

Both Israel and the US have opposed Palestine's bid for sovereign statehood in the past.

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Mahmoud Abbas with Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General

An upgrade to non-member observer status would put Palestine on the same level as the Vatican and mean it may be able to participate in General Assembly debates and make use of the International Criminal Court.

Whitehall officials told the Guardian that foreign secretary William Hague discussed Palestinian statehood with Abbas and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius on Monday night.

Mr Fabius has since said that France plans to vote in favour of Palestinian non-member status "out of a concern for coherency."

Palestine is expected to receive the two thirds majority it needs for the vote to be passed, with 132 member states already committing to recognising its status.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary has called for the government to support the Palestinian’s bid for enhanced status at the UN. In a statement Douglas Alexander said “Labour welcomed reports suggesting that the UK government could now support the bid.

He added: “Recognition of Palestine at the UN is not an alternative to negotiations, but a bridge for beginning them. After decades of diplomatic failure, some now doubt whether a two-state solution is any longer possible.

"That is why it is vital that as an international community we encourage the Palestinians to take the path of politics and reject the path of violence, and we rekindle hopes that there is a credible route to a viable Palestinian state and a secure Israel achieved by negotiations.

Earlier this week Nick Clegg indicated his backing for the move and would urge his Conservative coalition partners to vote in favour of Palestine at the UN.

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