Balfour Project: Writing to your MP about Britain and Palestine/Israel

Following my 2 April Zoom talk on Britain’s role and scope for action on Palestine/Israel, several attendees asked for a template to be created containing suggested points to make to their constituency MP. 

This template text is below. If you decide to use it, please feel free to amend it as you see fit. You will need to add your address, to show the MP that you are a constituent. You can then copy and paste it into a letter or email to your MP.

You can find out who your MP is here, and obtain their contact information. 

If you wish to donate to further the work of the Balfour Project charity, you can do so here. Your donation can be Gift Aided. 
 
With best wishes,
Vincent
Sir Vincent Fean
Chair of trustees, Balfour Project

P.S. Click here to register for our next online event. On 7 May at 3pm there will be an online screening of Britain in Palestine: 1917-1948 followed by Q&A.

Please consider making a donation to support our work. 



Dear [INSERT MP’S NAME],

I write to you as your constituent: my name is  [INSERT YOUR NAME] and my home address is [INSERT HOME ADDRESS].
I ask you please to do three things: 1) respond to this letter with your own thoughts;        
2 & 3) forward my letter to both the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development, seeking their responses. This letter addresses their separate responsibilities. 
 
Our Government needs to demonstrate consistency in upholding equal rights and international law, and – just as important – in holding to account anyone who breaks that law. Britain helped to shape the rules – based order after World War II. That order is under severe threat today. Our Government needs actively to defend it. 
 
The British Government had direct responsibility for Mandate Palestine from 1917-48, and failed in its “sacred trust” under the Mandate to bring Palestine to independence. Today, Israel is an established, sovereign state. The Palestinian people need to be free to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereign statehood alongside Israel. Our country’s leaders have a unique moral responsibility to work for equal rights for the Palestinian people, including that right to self-determination, enabling both peoples to coexist in peace. 
 
The Trump proposal goes in the opposite direction, in flagrant disregard of international law. It encourages further Israeli illegal annexation of occupied Palestinian territory, including the settlements and the Jordan Valley. The proposal was designed to be rejected by the Palestinians: they could do no other. It contradicts the policy set out by Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary in his Telegraph article of 29 October 2017, in which he calls for “two independent and sovereign states”, whose borders should be based on those of 4 June 1967, with equal land swaps. The occupation of 1967 needs to end, as Mr Johnson made clear. Under the Trump proposal, occupation is made permanent,  and sovereignty is denied.
 
On 12 September 2019, our Government rightly stated that unilateral Israeli annexation of Palestinian land constitutes “a serious breach of international law”. Words alone are not sufficient to defend international law and equal rights. Prime Minister Netanyahu intends to proceed with annexation. Our Government needs to speak out now, as a friend of Israel, warning that it opposes this criminal step, which will have serious consequences both for the bilateral relationship and for Israel’s standing in the world. 
 
In addition to opposing unilateral annexation in word and deed, our Government should
 respond positively to the UN appeal for £28 million to respond to Coronavirus in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and increase our national contribution to UNRWA, which delivers essential services to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and elsewhereimplement UN Security Council Resolution 2334, calling on all states to distinguish in their dealings between the territory of the state of Israel and the OPT. Settlements are illegal. What does that mean for settlement products and for British commercial engagement with settlements? 
On 9 November 2011 Foreign Secretary William Hague said in the Commons:
“We reserve the right to recognise a Palestinian state bilaterally at a moment of our choosing and when it can best help bring about peace. The United Kingdom will continue to be one of the principal supporters of Palestinian state building efforts, assisting them to tackle poverty, build institutions and boost their economy”. 
 
Today, unilateral annexation threatens to destroy any remaining hope of a just peace. It is right for Britain now to choose to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, and our responsibility to uphold the prospect of two sovereign states coexisting in peace.

[Optional additional points]

I share the sentiments expressed by HRH Prince Charles in Bethlehem in January: “It is my dearest wish that the future will bring freedom, justice and equality to all Palestinians, enabling you to thrive and to prosper”. The Trump proposal denies the Palestinians freedom, justice and equality.  
 
I ask you to endorse the 5 point call for Government action issued by the Holy Land Coordination – Catholic Bishops and the Anglican Bishop of Southwark – visiting the Holy Land in January:Insisting upon the application of international lawFollowing the Vatican’s lead in recognising the state of PalestineAddressing the security concerns of Israel and the rights of all to live in safetyRejecting political or economic support for settlementsResolutely opposing acts of violence or abuses of human rights by any side. 

Sincerely, 
 
[YOUR NAME HERE]
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