Former Israeli Ambassador Dr. Alon Liel – Is the failed formal annexation attempt a regional turning point?

Online Live Talk on Wednesday 9th Sep 2020 3:00 PM UK

Alon Liel is a courageous man. He dares to speak truth to power, and knows the cost of this in his own life. While calling for an end to occupation and for equal rights for all Israelis and Palestinians, Liel outlines in this talk some of the current Israeli Government  strategy‎, and why it is so urgent that our  Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel now. 

In a Guardian article headed ‘The UK must act to counter Trump’s destructive Jerusalem decision’,  Liel called on the British Government to recognise the state of Palestine. ‘Such a British act of recognition,’ he wrote, ‘would reaffirm Palestinian basic rights, restore hope, and  help create the much-needed parity of esteem without which no peace agreement can be just or sustainable.’ In his view, this could ‘save the equitable two-state solution and the possibility of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.’

Diana Safieh:

I welcome Dr Alon Liel, a former Israeli diplomat. He has served as Ambassador to South Africa. He the Consul-General of Israel for the South Eastern United States, as well as the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

Dr Alon Liel:

The option is not two states or one state, it’s two states or apartheid.

Thank you for hosting me. I know that it’s the Balfour Project organising the whole event. In a different context, the Balfour Project in Israel is a huge, huge project now. The Israeli Prime Minister lives on Balfour Street and the project is to move him out of there. So, this is called now in Israel the Balfour Project: take the Prime Minister out of Balfour.

It’s becoming very difficult to analyse what’s going on in a world of fake news. I remember 30, 40 years ago, researchers and commentators used to take the word, the oral word, the written word, and work with it and analyse it. It’s over. Many leaders are cheating all of over, without paying any price. You can even not sense it in their body language. And then we have to manoeuvre in this world, taking into consideration that everybody’s cheating us.

I’ll start by analysing this UAE suspension of annexation deal. What are the regional implications? Then I’ll move to the Israeli/Palestinian scene as it is after the deal. And tell you about the surprises we had during this process in the last few months.

Annexation is an illegal move, an irreversible move.

So first the deal itself. When we had the Israeli Government coalition agreement signed in Israel about five months ago, it looked to many of us here like the end of the world. The coalition agreement said, I remember it was June, that on the 1st of July, annexation will be applied. Netanyahu worked it out in such a way that he had the signatures of the two leaders of the party called Blue and White, Gantz and Ashkenazi, and he had a very clear parliamentary majority for annexation.

I’m sure, knowing him for at least 30, 35 years, that this was the dream of his life. This was what he saw as his place in history. All the efforts around building the coalition were around this deal. He was determined to start on the 1st of July and finalise it by the end of July or maximum August, because he did not want it to be dependent on the result of the elections in the United States. And then things started rolling. Europe said they don’t like it, here and there, there were voices against it internationally, especially coming from Jordan, but no meaningful domestic opposition that could be an obstacle that he could not pass.

And then we had in this process the first major surprise – the Emirates. They had never played a role in this region, never ever got involved in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Nobody in Israel analysing the political situation gave them any weight. And here came an interview by their ambassador in Washington to the biggest paper in Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth, in which he said: you will not annex, we will normalise.

I was amazed to see the impact this interview had on the Israeli leadership. I still did not know everything that was behind it, but I saw from the day of this interview that it did not look the same where the annexation story was concerned. Now we know that the relations between the Emirates and the United States carry so much weight because of the arms deals and so on. At the time we were not so aware, but we saw there was a change. Still maybe not a U-turn, but a change.

And then politicians in Israel and the political diplomats, the diplomats Netanyahu appointed abroad, said we have a different ballgame. And the deal came about and had three major components. One, the suspension of annexation. Two, normalisation between Israel and the Emirates. Three, total sidelining of the Palestinians, stabbing the Palestinians in the back. These are the 3 components of the deal.

We didn’t know about Israeli agreeing to the sale of F35 aircraft to the Emirates, silently or not silently. We didn’t know it, it was not a component then, but these were the three components. And here I must tell you, not only between left and right in Israel or two-state supporters or one-state supporters, even inside the Israeli peace camp, inside the Israeli left, the reactions were very, very different. Some saw it as a positive move. Many saw it as a negative move – your best friends, with whom you agree on everything, could not agree on this.

I saw two of the three components as positive, and one as very negative. But still when I summed it up to myself, I saw a two-one win. The first positive element was the suspension of annexation. There was, as I analysed it, nothing that could stop annexation except this deal. This is a huge blessing. I know that many people say that in practical terms, Israel already annexed and it’s adding a de jure element to a de facto reality, but this is not the situation.

Annexation is an illegal move, an irreversible move. As we saw in the case of the Golan Heights, as we saw in the case of East Jerusalem, and I thought it’s almost a miracle that Netanyahu had a majority for it in the Knesset and in his government, but didn’t bring it to a vote and it was prevented. So I saw it as very positive. I know that many people say it’s not fully over; we can discuss that.

The second positive thing, as I see it, is peace with an Arab country. We never, ever in the 72 years of the state of Israel’s existence had a warm peace with an Arab country. We had a warm peace with a Muslim country for about a decade, with Turkey. But what we have with Egypt and Jordan is very, very far from a warm peace. It is an important peace, of strategic importance, but the main component in the relationships we have with Egypt and Jordan is security. And the second component is security. And the third is security. And we do what they need security wise, intelligence wise and so on, but there are no other dimensions to this peace agreement. It’s like a tree, a very fruitful tree. It’s beneficial to two countries, but with one root, the security root.

Now, we see with the Emirates a very different picture. It’s overt, it’s over the table, there will be flights, agreements, economic deals, tourism, cultural relations and so on. And I think the most important element that is positive is that for the first time in the history of Israel, I see in public reaction in Israel elements of admiration for the achievements of an Arab country.

The Israelis look at Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and every kid in Israel, and I know I have seven grandchildren, they all want to fly to the highest tower in the world in Dubai. The photos of the Emirates took the Israeli public by surprise. And it is the wish of every company, of every NGO, of every sports team now to be connected, to get funds, to invest, to visit. We never had it. It will have an impact, if it goes on, on the Jewish public, but also on the Arab public. Arab society in Israel suddenly can show the Jewish public that there is more in the Arab world than what you see in Syria or Lebanon or Iraq. There is more to it. I think this is very positive.

As I said, there is one devastating negative element, and this is what happened to the Palestinians. They were totally marginalised with this deal, and it was so insulting and embarrassing to them that they couldn’t even notice the annexation disappearance and consider it as positive. They were shocked that an Arab country is going to normalise relations with Israel, totally bypassing and ignoring them. This is having implications on morale and on their political, regional diplomatic standing. And this is a big blow to the two-states idea, and in a way, balancing the positive element of the suspension of annexation that could ruin the idea of the two states. But what happened with this deal is also a blow to the two states from this dimension.

I want to move to the regional implications. There we also have three components. One, will there be a spill over. This deal with the Emirates in itself is not a game-changer in the region. The Emirates are very rich and can play a role on the economic side, but they are not a major player politically. If it doesn’t spill over, the effect is quite limited. If it will, we have to see who else is joining. There are already talks about Bahrain and Sudan. (NB Bahrain subsequently normalised; Sudan did not.)

Something that looks like happening, but we still have to see if it will happen, is Jerusalem. Suddenly we see countries announcing, two African countries, but also others, we saw recently Serbia and Kosovo, that they are opening embassies in Jerusalem. This is very important to the Israeli government. As a result of the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem, only one country in the world, Guatemala, moved its embassy to Jerusalem. It’s a big disappointment here in Israel. Some countries started all kinds of semi-fictitious economic or cultural offices, but embassies in Jerusalem, we’ve only two. If we’ll have four or five more joining now, as a result of the Emirates momentum, this will be meaningful. Also you can ask if this is really a result of the Emirates momentum or again of Trump putting pressure on these governments to move to Jerusalem, to help himself in the elections and to help his friend Netanyahu.

More important as regards the region is the issue of the Balkanisation of Israel. In the last 20 years, or maybe 15, Israel decided to drop the Middle East as a regional option. I grew up in an earlier era in which at least the diplomacy of Israel saw Israel’s integration in the Middle East as a major issue. I remember the slogan of Shimon Peres: “the New Middle East”. This was the dream. Our parents left Europe, had to leave Europe or other countries, because of Zionist reasons or as refugees, and we are here to stay, and to build our future in this region, in the Middle East. And this was the goal. This was the dream. It also had an economic aspect, and so on. In the last 15 years, there was a U-turn in Israeli diplomacy, the leaders of Israel from the beginning of this century, like Lieberman (Foreign Minister) and Netanyahu and Bennett, and others, did not believe that we will achieve peace with the Palestinians. So the conclusion was that we will never really be fully accepted by the Middle East. So if this is the case, let’s go to another neighbourhood.

This change to Eastern Europe, to the Balkans, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, all this started around 2004 – 2005, but received a great push at the end of 2008, and especially in May 2010 when our alliance with Turkey collapsed – disappeared.
In the last decade, Turkey has become a hostile country to Israel. And Israel responded. We used to need Turkey very much, especially security-wise. We were training in the skies and on the seas around Turkey. And we were developing our systems in Turkey. That was very important for our military industries. And here we lost Turkey and we rushed to strengthen this alliance with Eastern Europe, with the Balkans – and the success was enormous. One of the results was that Israel almost completely neutralised the ability of the EU to be a player in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, because the 10 plus countries of Eastern Europe suddenly became pro-Israeli in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. That was over one third of the countries in the EU that worked against any decision, when it came to the Israeli/Palestinian scene. This was extremely important to Israel.

Another dimension that made our Balkanisation so important was gas. Israel needed to export gas. At first the plan was to do it to Turkey, but when we couldn’t, we signed an agreement with Jordan backed by the United States. Then Israel sold small amounts just recently to Egypt. But the long-term plan is to do it with Cyprus, through Greece, to Europe. And here again, we are dependent on Greece, Cyprus and others in Europe.

There is a conflict developing between Turkey and Greece. Israel supports Greece militarily. If there is a military conflict between Turkey/Greece and Turkey/Cyprus, israel will be a player. I’m not sure if we’ll be involved in actual fighting, but definitely in assisting Cyprus and Greece in the dispute with Turkey.

This is now Israel’s neighbourhood. The question is whether the deal with the Emirates can pull us back to the Middle East. It’s a little early to tell, because of course it depends a lot on if we really give up the issue of annexation, and even, in a way, slow down the issue of the settlements. The commitment not to annex is a Netanyahu commitment to the Americans. But Netanyahu will not always be around. And he has strong people to his right that did not give up the annexation dream and will fight for it. So if annexation will be somehow revived, if even orally, if the world will accept the fact that Netanyahu and his government or his successor will have annexation as a plan, I don’t see the deal with the Emirates really normalising. And if Israel will not be normalised, Israel will stay in the Balkans. Our region will be the Balkans. The economic, political, cultural benefits of becoming Europeans, not EU, but Europeans, with so many friends in Eastern Europe, were enormous.

Now to the third dimension of the deal: the Palestinians. This is a huge tragedy, because there is an unbelievable gap between the world support for two states, and what the Palestinians are achieving on the ground. I hesitate to call this world support for two states the consensus, because the American support for it is lip service. They don’t care about the Palestinian state, but that’s only Trump. If Trump is replaced, the Americans will come back to the two states with the Democrats. And then the whole world stands with the UN, the whole world stands behind the issue of two states.

The gap between what the world wants to happen and what is happening on the ground has to close. I see the main factor on this issue as the coming elections in the United States. The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans in the United States on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is very, very meaningful. Definitely the United States is the most important player here on this issue. Also because of, at least today, its involvement in parts of the Arab world. But here I see Britain as the second most important country globally after the United States on this issue – especially because Britain is out of the EU. The EU as such is paralysed, as Brussels, though not as individual countries. Germany still is a player, France is a player. There are not many other meaningful players in Europe as individual countries. But being outside the EU, because of the internal opposition of these 10 to 12 countries that support Israel when it comes to the conflict, Britain is much more independent in what it can do for the Palestinians.

In March 2017, as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson said it’s two states or apartheid. It’s so clear. And if it’s apartheid, it’s a different Israel. But the problem is that most of the Israelis do not care. They prefer to stick to the land and keep the settlements and lose democracy, because the world is not democratic anymore and so on. But I think this is still what we can work on internationally, explaining especially to the world, and not to the Israeli public that doesn’t give a damn, to the world that without two states, there will be no democratic one state. Israel will never allow big numbers of Palestinians to vote in their elections because then, in a decade or two, we can have a Muslim or Arab Prime Minister. Israel will not allow it. The option is not two states or one state, it’s two states or apartheid.

Now the big question is can the world tolerate an apartheid state, or is the world different from 30 years ago in South Africa when it couldn’t tolerate apartheid and forced the apartheid state to fall? I don’t know.

I want to add another dimension, which was a big surprise. And this will be my last comment. I think all of us here in Israel, but many of us also in the Jewish world, were surprised how fierce the Jewish world opposition was to annexation. It surprised us because there is no fierce Jewish opposition to the 1967 occupation, not at all. I don’t know how many Jewish people are watching us, but most of the Jews in the world that support Israel do not use the word occupation. They say there is no occupation.

And suddenly when annexation came on to the agenda, the Jewish world suddenly understood that it’s all about two states or apartheid and they don’t want an apartheid Jewish state. They will have a problem to identify with an apartheid Jewish state.

So the opposition in the Jewish world surprised the Israeli politicians. It came from all over the world. Of course, mostly the United States, but also the rest of the communities stood up against it. I know that there were Jewish delegations to 21 Israeli embassies to protest against annexation. The message was sent to Jerusalem, where the Foreign Minister is from the Blue and White Party, not from Likud. They were very impressed.

I think what the Jewish world realised that if we do not have two states, Israeli and Palestinian, we will end up with two different sets of Jewish people, the Jewish people that will support apartheid and the Jewish people that will oppose apartheid.

The second most important Jewish community in the world in this respect is the Jewish community in Britain. It’s big. It has always lived in a democratic environment. It can communicate easily with American Jewry and such a coalition of American Jewry and British Jewry against annexation or against the possibility of apartheid is very meaningful. Let me conclude here. I’ll gladly answer any questions.

Diana:

We have a lot of questions. The first one is from Brendan O’Brien. Do you agree that the annexation plan will mean that a de facto occupation will be declared to be de jure with no change on the ground, except that the creeping displacement of Palestinians will be emboldened?

Alon:

I see a very meaningful difference between occupation and annexation. Occupation means the Israeli military controls the area. Annexation is that the state will control the area legally. And I see this as a very big difference and I’m really, really glad to see the annexation option probably removed.

Diana:

We have questions on new Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely. Kate Scott asks: has Dr Liel any comments regarding the appointment of as ambassador to the UK of Tzipi Hotovely, who lives in one of the settlements illegal under international law and has made racist and inflammatory remarks throughout her time as a Member of the Knesset? There have been objections to her appointment, including from British Jews and peers and Parliament. I also have a question from Vincent Fean who chairs the Balfour Project: what role should the UK play, and will Mrs. Hotovely help or hinder?

Alon:

I hope that in every meeting she will have in London, the first question will be, do you support annexation? If she says yes, she is in trouble in the U.K. And if she says, no, she is not Tzipi Hotovely. So test her on this issue.

She has been appointed Ambassador. She doesn’t live in a settlement. She lives inside Israel, but with her current views, she will make a very bad ambassador. I hope that with time, she will understand where she’s living and adjust a bit, but from what is seen now, the problem is that she lives in a biblical world. This vocabulary that the land was given to us by God and nothing else matters, this, I don’t think can work in Britain. I think personally that the test case is annexation. I hope that in every meeting she will have in London, the first question will be, do you support annexation? If she says yes, she is in trouble in the U.K. And if she says, no, she is not Tzipi Hotovely. So test her on this issue. She’s a huge supporter of annexation. And you can also test her on the issue of citizenship for Palestinians. I think she’s about to fail. She is about to cause damage to Israeli/British relations. If she changes, she will surprise me.

Diana:

The next question comes from John Hall: I don’t understand all the fuss about Israel officially sanctioning the theft of Palestinian territory through “Annexation”.   It would be better for the “civilised” world if the theft were left unsanctioned:- 1) It would delay the Israeli authorities having to formally announce to the world that they approve of the gross violation of human rights incurred in dispossessing the indigenous Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories. 2).  On the other hand, for “friends” of Israel and the wider international community, a formal annexation of stolen land might force them to confront this abuse.  It would be difficult for them to justify normal relations with an officially human-rights-abusing, settler-colonial, apartheid State of Israel. There was a reluctance among many countries, including Britain, to introduce sanctions against, and ostracise apartheid South Africa.  Formalising the illegal colonisation of Palestine by Israel could even force a UK Tory Government to act in accordance with its new policy of promoting human rights throughout the world   – despite the poor reflection on Britain’s own colonial past. Would the former ambassador agree with this analysis?

Alon:

A long analysis! I could sense before annexation was suspended that some of my friends in Israel in the peace camp wanted annexation to happen – because they thought by doing so, Israel will cross the red line. And as long as Israel is not crossing the red line marked by the international community, meaning it’s only occupation, it’s only settlements, the reaction of the world is such that the world cannot change the policy. But if we annex, then sanctions will come into the picture and then Israel will really have to take the world seriously. I was against this opinion all the time. The reason is, especially because of my South African experience. I was in South Africa when sanctions were applied, I saw the result of it, but it needed the whole international community to be part of the effort. By the way, the last country, or the last two to join the sanctions were Israel and Taiwan. Israel was there until the end. And I saw how meaningful it was when Israel joined the sanctions, because Israel was the last oxygen balloon that the South Africans had.

We are very, very far from this situation in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, especially because the United States, even under the Democrats, will not apply any sanctions on Israel, and big parts of the world, especially in Europe, will not do it. Many leaders in the world believe that Israel is fighting radical, aggressive Islam. And as a democracy still, we’re very far from anyone applying sanctions that might

work on Israel. So I’m glad that annexation didn’t happen, that we didn’t make such a move that will increase the pressure on Israel. I don’t think the world, the new world, the world of today, COVID or no COVID, can get together and apply overwhelming sanctions on Israel or on any country. We see that it doesn’t work on other countries too.

Diana:

We had comments from Maggie Foyer about Israel’s claim to be alone, surrounded by hostile Arab States and how the UAE deal impacts that. And a question from Magan Singodia about Israel’s links with Russia: do we see any significant changes coming?

Alon:

Even after this Emirates deal, by far the country that is most important in the region for Israel is Egypt. Relations between Israel and Egypt are much more important than Israel’s relations with most of the European countries. The relationship is based on security, but it’s very stable and it has a huge impact on the Palestinians.

Netanyahu is an extremely experienced diplomat. He started his public career as a diplomat, a politically appointed diplomat, in Israel’s embassy in Washington. He was Israel’s ambassador in the UN 35 years ago in the late eighties. And then he was for periods of time Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. He knows his way. He has his charisma, and he managed to develop a very stable and meaningful relationship with Putin. What Israel does today in the Middle East, bombarding from the air in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Gaza, and probably here and there also doing things in Iran, has I don’t know whether to say a blessing, but a silent reaction from Moscow, and even in Syria, coordination with Moscow.

So he is seen here in the Israeli public as a magician. He is continuing occupation now for 53 years with fantastic relations with the American President – almost symbiotic relations – and very good relations with Putin. So the Israeli public says to itself, what will happen if this guy disappears, who will take care of Trump and who will take care of Putin? So far, probably because of balance of power issues, the Russians are not challenging our policy. Israel is the regional power militarily, particularly when it comes to the air force. Israel controls the skies of the Middle East and Israel is bombarding so frequently, I guess you’ll hear about it in the world, and no reaction. I don’t remember in the last 50, 60 attacks Israel conducted in Syria that anyone in Europe said a word. So as long as Israel can go on doing these things, especially without Russia, that sees itself a player in Syria, reacting, the relations are seen by the Israeli public, at least, as very good.

Diana:

A question from Rosemary Veitch: Having just had my latest update from the International Crisis Group, which speaks of COVID-19 taking root in the Gaza Strip, do you have any means to persuade the Israeli authorities to allow Gaza to obtain medical supplies and to let the Strip’s residents who are seriously ill travel abroad to seek care? Do you have a comment on the situation in Gaza with regards to Covid?

Alon:

Israel has a devastating second wave of Corona virus. The situation in Israel is terrible. It’s deteriorating. We have night closures on 40 cities. This will definitely affect things here in Israel. A lot of tensions. Many of the sick people are Orthodox or Arabs, and the tensions are mounting and the economic implications are around the corner and already felt. Gaza is a time bomb. They don’t have the medical ability to deal with a big number of patients. Israel definitely should help and allow the world to help. The economic situation in Gaza is terrible. To combat COVID we have to enable the world to come and assist, because I don’t know what Israel can do with its own COVID problems.

Diana:

The next questions are related to one state/two state. One is from Steve France: is not a blow to the two state illusion necessary to reunite Palestinians and address the whole mess? Mike Joseph asks: surely this makes a one state solution the only credible goal? And Tony Greenstein asks: can you imagine a democratic unitary state of all its citizens. If not, then there is no solution.

Alon:

Heavy ones! I believe still in two states, but this cannot happen without the world. The Palestinians cannot achieve it on their own. Israel will not volunteer to do it without the world becoming a major player on this issue. For instance, demanding the implementation of UN Security Resolution 2334 from December 2016. You have it in writing. It was 14 countries in favour with the abstention of the United States. Without the world demanding the implementation of 2334, we will not have a Palestinian state. So it depends. It depends on the world. Also here, even individual countries can make a difference. Look at the difference that the Emirates did on the annexation. One country with a bright idea, with a lot of money behind it, with a lot of economic power behind it made a huge difference.

It might happen again that one leader different from the leadership we have today in Europe or any other place in the world, one leader will be determined enough to go with his demand for two states. It can make a difference. But I stress again, without the world, it’s not going to happen. I don’t see the ingredients inside the Palestinian society and inside the Israeli society that can help us bake this two state cake. We don’t have the ingredients. We have to import them.

Now about the one state. If you will ask a person like me, for me, I’m Jewish, I’m Israeli, I’m Zionist, I was a diplomat for over 30 years, but for me, democracy comes before Judaism. I’m more of a democrat than a Jew. Definitely I’m not a religious Jew. So if anyone in the globe would promise me that if we have one state, the Palestinians and the Jews will be fully equal, including in political rights… I don’t love it; my parents came over from Germany to establish a Jewish state. I will not love it, but I can live with it. But again, from my knowledge of Israeli society, the Jewish part of the Israeli society, this cannot happen. And if you want to understand why this cannot happen, just read the Nation State Law that the Knesset approved in July 2018, that keeps the Jewish public above the Arab public. And this was only planned as a preparation for annexation, to clarify to the Palestinians that if the Arabs in Israel are not equal, the Palestinians definitely will not be equal. So I don’t see Israeli society, the Jewish part of Israeli society, wanting full citizenship and full voting rights for the Palestinians. This is the reason I don’t support such an option.

Diana:

A question from John Pullman specifically about the Balfour Project Charity, which I will answer. What

are the objectives of the Balfour Project in the UK, a Scottish-registered charity? That’s the organisation running these online talks. The main aim is to persuade Britain to accept its responsibility in the region, its historical responsibility, and to set things right by recognising the Palestinian state alongside the Israeli state, and upholding the rights of everyone involved and present there: equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.

To conclude, Dr Liel, what should British people be doing to keep this issue in the limelight and to push forward to a just peace?

Alon:

I don’t think even the leaders of your Balfour Project understand what happened to the name Balfour in Israel. It’s difficult to grasp. When I was six years old, I learned about Balfour in school. All of us did. Balfour was the creator of the Jewish state. When you say Balfour now, Balfour has a very negative connotation. Most Israelis saying Balfour now identify it with Netanyahu, because of his residence. So, the demonstrations in Israel against Netanyahu are called the Balfour demonstrations.

The best way for people to help the Palestinians is to work for Western European recognition of a Palestinian state. I know the approach of the leaders of Western Europe today. It’s very difficult to confront Israel directly on this issue because Israel is considered a strong country. I don’t know how strong will we be after this COVID-19. We are definitely getting weaker, but leaders in Europe say to themselves we have our own problems, we don’t need a confrontation with Israel. But those who really feel that Britain has the responsibility for Israeli/Palestinian coexistence and peace, and it had, more than any other country in the world should, should try and convince public circles, NGOs, government circles, that Palestinian statehood should be announced, and work on it.

What could work and is very important now is to build in Britain Jewish/Palestinian joint advocacy for a Palestinian state. Unfortunately, there is not enough energy behind Palestinian diplomacy for many reasons. Maybe it’s a kind of exhaustion, but I think there has to be more creativity in the public work in Britain for a Palestinian state. I think we can build a Jewish/Palestinian dialogue in Britain. There are enough liberal Jews that can be part of it, enough Palestinians, who are two staters, who are pro-democracy, who are pro-peace, who can work together in Britain. And then it can spill over to other countries in the world, especially other European countries and create a new way of dealing with it.

Ultimately recognition is a government decision, but what’s happening at grassroots level on this aspect can prepare the ground for change at the governmental level.

Former Israeli diplomat who served as:
*Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and of the Ministry of Economy and Planning.
*Ambassador of Israel to South Africa (Non Resident Ambassador to Mozambique and Zimbabwe)
*Consul General of Israel to South Eastern United States (based in Atlanta, Georgia)
*Foreign Ministry Spokesman
*Charge D ‘affairs (head of mission) of Israel in Turkey
*Vice Consul of Israel to the Mid-Western United States (based in Chicago. Illinois)

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