Conference on Jerusalem – Closing Remarks & Statement

Closing Remarks and Statement
HE Khaled Al-Duwaisan -Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UK
Sir Vincent Fean

Click here to read the statement.

Sir Vincent Fean:

I now welcome His Excellency Khaled Al-Duwaisan, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom for the last 27 years. He knows us well –  better than we know ourselves.

Khaled is the Dean of the Arab League Ambassadors and the Dean of the entire diplomatic corps, and a wise man.

Excellency Khaled Al-Duwaisan:

My Lords, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to reiterate my gratitude to be participating today in this important conference, and to commend the continuous unremitting work of the Balfour Project in seeking a future of equal rights and peaceful coexistence between the peoples in the occupied territories and the peace of Jerusalem.

If we turn to history, there is no better place than Jerusalem as a witness that religious coexistence can be achieved. Bearing in mind that for 1,000 years, Jerusalem was exclusively Jewish; for about 400 years, Christian; for 1,300 years, Islamic; and today, after all this history, no one religion can solely dominate Jerusalem. So protecting the rights of the three Abrahamic religions equally is the only way to achieve peaceful coexistence.

As this conference’s statement declares rightfully, I strongly believe the future of Jerusalem is crucial to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Israel and the Arab and Muslim worlds. 

Ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be a top priority: locally, regionally and internationally. Without a breakthrough, we face the prospect of continuing violence and suffering.

In this regard, I wish to renew the principled and firm stance that the Palestinians and the  Arab and Muslim countries are ready for peace. And the Arab Peace Initiative, which remains on the table, is clear in offering an unprecedented opportunity for peace and full recognition of Israel.

Moreover, this Arab initiative is a witness to our willingness to give concessions, and support everything that would push towards a solution in accordance with the relevant international resolutions. Starting with demanding justice through the immediate and complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories from the borders of 4th of June, 1967, and the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Living side by side with Israel as the two-state solution is the only way to peace and security.

Finally, I would like to express once more my appreciation for the invitation to participate today, hoping that this conference achieves all its noble goals.

Thank you.

Sir Vincent:

May I thank you, Ambassador Khaled Al-Duwaisan, Ambassador of Kuwait, Dean of the Arab League Ambassadors, for your participation today and for your wise words.

 I now turn to the statement that will close this conference. It’s a Balfour Project statement which I hope will find favour with all our attendees.

The title of the statement – which is signed by 37 parliamentarians and religious  leaders, and we aim for more – is:

Israel/Palestine: Equal Rights for lasting Peace

We acknowledge Britain’s historic responsibilities for inequality and discrimination in Jerusalem and across the Holy Land. They stem from the last century, through the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate for Palestine, with consequences which are still felt today. Past British responsibility for present injustice demands British commitment to work urgently for a better future, respecting equal rights.

With British assistance, the Jewish people exercised their right to self-determination in the Holy Land more than 70 years ago. To this day, the Palestinian people are denied this right. This injustice must end.

The future of Jerusalem is crucial to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Israel and the Arab and Muslim worlds. The recent normalisation of relations between Israel and some Arab states is no substitute for a lasting peace founded on broad popular consent from Israelis and Palestinians. Sharing Jerusalem is essential to gain that consent.

Palestinians and Israelis will share the Holy Land forever, and must shape its future together. Only equality will bring safety and well-being, and essential dialogue. The two peoples, alone, have not attained peaceful coexistence. So, for the good of both, and if we truly mean what we say, we in Britain must help reverse current negative developments which only entrench separation and inequality. Civil society, including faith leaders, in the UK, the rest of Europe and the USA, has a vital role in making that change happen.

We call upon the British Government now to take the following five measures:

  • Reaffirm publicly East Jerusalem’s status under international law as occupied Palestinian territory and oppose current systematic efforts to undermine this status;
  • Press for true freedom of access for all believers – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – to their respective holy sites in Jerusalem; especially Jews to the Western Wall, Christians to the Holy Sepulchre, Muslims to al Aqsa Mosque, from wherever they live;
  • Work effectively to uphold the rule of law reflected in UN Security Council Resolutions, particularly Resolution 2334, which condemns illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
  • Insist that Israel end forthwith its discriminatory practices in Jerusalem, enabling all Jerusalemites to enjoy the same rights and services, regardless of creed or nationality; and
  • Recognise the State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states.

We seek a future of equal rights and peaceful coexistence between the peoples of Israel and Palestine in two states along the pre-1967 Green Line. Crucially, the well-being and security of both peoples in those states will grow with equality.  We seek the Peace of Jerusalem. 

That’s our statement, signed by 37 British parliamentarians and religious leaders. I have a request to our British attendees: we will send the statement that I just have read to you by email as an attachment in the coming days. When you receive it, please consider sending it to your Member of Parliament with two requests. The first: he or she should please co-sign the statement. We have not asked all MPs to do so. You will see who has and whom we did not ask. Secondly, whether they sign or not, to transmit the statement on your behalf to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Dominic Raab.

Thank you all for joining us today. Thank you to Diana Safieh, who made it happen, to my Balfour Project colleagues who chaired the various sessions, and to all our distinguished speakers.

 I dedicate our day together to the memory of the late, great Rosemary Hollis, a recent member of the Balfour Project Advisory Forum who devoted her life to the study of the Israeli and Palestinian narratives, and the narrow path to peaceful coexistence.

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