British MPs have backed the recognition of the state of Palestine alongside Israel in an historic symbolic vote in the House of Commons.

The vote of 274 to 12, majority 262, saw MPs on all sides urge the government to "recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel" as part of a "contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution".

The government is not bound to do anything as a result of the vote.

Speaking in the backbench business debate, Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood said a Palestinian state would only be recognised when the time was right.

Mr Ellwood said the timing of when the UK opts to accept Palestinian statehood is "critical", insisting: "You can after all only play this card once."

He added Israel "lives in a tough neighbourhood" and has a right to defend itself.

But he said Israel's settlement building made it hard for its friends, which Britain considers itself to be, to make the case that it was committed to peace.

Asked if the consequences of MPs backing a Palestinian state would be helpful, neutral or negative, Mr Ellwood replied: "We have made our position absolutely very clear that Britain defends the right to choose our moment which is appropriate for the peace process and when we make that bilateral decision."

He went on: "We commend the leadership of (Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas) and (prime minister Rami Hamdallah), who I met last week, and their commitment to securing co-operation and institutional reform.

"Yet despite their commitment and the support of donors such as the UK, the aspirations of the Palestinian people cannot be fully realised until there is an end to the occupation ... and we believe this will only come through negotiations.

"That is why following the Cairo conference the sense of urgency was recognised, a point I just made, and why the UK hopes that a serious process can urgently resume. That is the time to readdress these issues.

"Only an end to the occupation will ensure that Palestinian statehood becomes a reality on the ground. The UK will bilaterally recognise a Palestinian state when we judge that it can best help bring about the peace."