2 thoughts on “Middle East peace: the Balfour project”

  1. Letter in The Times of London, 30 March 2019
    Sir, A year on from the avoidable deaths of 60 people at the Gaza fence, rockets and reprisals are recurring. This dismal pattern of behaviour must be broken. Two million people are imprisoned in Gaza, an integral part of Palestine. The UN says that Gaza will not be “a liveable place” by next year. It is unbearable now.
    There is a better way than waiting for President Trump’s “deal”, a way that does not subordinate the right to self-determination of one people to the security and territorial ambitions of another. We back the Balfour Project’s call for an independent Palestinian state. Israelis need to co-exist securely with their Palestinian neighbours, not deny legitimate free movement. Britain must take a lead. We urge the government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel and uphold the rule of law, embodied most recently in UN security council resolution 2334 [https://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/SRES2334-2016.pdf]. Breaches of international law require serious consequences, whoever commits them. We support all on both sides of the pre-1967 “Green Line” seeking equal rights, security and peace.
    The Marquess of Lothian, QC; Alistair Carmichael, MP; Ian Murray MP; Tommy Sheppard, MP; Dr Philippa Whitford, MP; Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws; Lord Bruce of Bennachie; Lord Purvis of Tweed; the Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan; Sandra White, MSP; Claudia Beamish, MSP; Pauline McNeill MSP; Ross Greer, MSP; the Rev Iain Cunningham; Sir William Patey, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan; Professor Graham Watt, University of Glasgow

  2. The British Government recognised the country of Palestine long ago – pre-Mandate British documents attest to that.
    Hunt is being as obsequious and disingenuous as only a potential leadership candidate could be. Not only does he announce a change of HMG policy to a very small (but influential in the Tory Party https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/9740044/The-cowardice-at-the-heart-of-our-relationship-with-Israel.html) audience, but does so with extraordinary (and doubtless willful) obtuseness: “By any standard of fairness or proportion, elevating this dispute above all others cannot be sensible; indeed it is an unhelpful illusion to suppose that Israel’s conduct deserves special scrutiny.”
    There are two main reasons that Israel is continually castigated. The first is Israel’s continual flouting of all international law (including those elements of the Balfour Declaration itself) which do not suit it. That has fairly major potential ramifications, in particular for the principle that territory can(not) be acquired by war. Will UAE claim right of conquest in Yemen? Arab Digest has reported on Kuwaiti fear of KSA invasion; will Hunt recognise a future KSA conquest of Kuwait? Or KSA’s occupation of Bahrain? There are numerous other contested locations, not least Gibraltar and Ulster: will Hunt recognise the “historic rights” of the Spanish to the Rock, or of Dublin to the Six Counties?
    The second is Israel’s hypocrisy, which offends against “any standard of fairness or proportion”. Hunt states “The horrors of Syria’s civil war, the brutal detention camps in North Korea, the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma – all these human tragedies have been the subject of important HRC Resolutions, passed with Britain’s full support.” None of the Syrians, Koreans nor Burmans complain vociferously about how they have and continue to be ill-treated as a people while simultaneously ill-treating another people. Only this morning, the NYT reported “A Painting Looted by and Returned to Nazis Finally Goes to Its Jewish Owners” (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/20/arts/design/nazi-looted-art-cathedral.html) Will the Palestinians have their property similarly returned?

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