The Balfour Project has launched a pilot for a peace advocacy fellowship scheme, initially within London University. This is aimed primarily (but not exclusively) at post-graduate students who are committed to the Balfour Project Approach (see below). The first fellows have been appointed but watch this space for subsequent years.
The Balfour Project Approach
What distinguishes the Balfour Project in its activism for peace between Israelis and Palestinians is its concentration on Britain’s historic responsibility for the failure to deliver peaceful self-determination to both Israelis and Palestinians when the Palestine Mandate terminated in 1948. It calls on Britain to acknowledge this responsibility, and to accept that it therefore has a particular obligation to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians today on the strict basis of the acknowledgement of the rights and obligations of each side in international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law. This includes (a) acceptance of the state of Israel as a sovereign state and member of the United Nations and (b) acceptance of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian People on the Palestinian lands occupied by Israel in 1967 (“the Occupied Palestinian Territory”), including immediate recognition by Britain of Palestine as a sovereign state enjoying sovereignty over the entirety of that land.
One of the important issues that the Balfour Project aims to promote through discussion and advocacy is the impact and significance of recognition. The implications of British recognition should be more than symbolic and have a positive effect on the mindset of Palestinians and Britons, as well as providing a wake-up call to Israelis. It would also highlight issues such as the weakness of the legal title held by Israelis who choose to live in settlements, as well as iniquities such as the lack of freedom of movement for Palestinians within the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Balfour Project Approach thus aims to achieve a much greater public awareness of Britain’s current and historic responsibilities in the Middle East, and in particular of Britain’s role there in the first half of the twentieth century. The Balfour Project invites the government and people of the United Kingdom
- to learn what the Balfour Declaration and Palestine mean for both Arabs and Jews,
- to acknowledge that while a homeland for the Jewish people has been achieved, the promise to protect the rights of the Palestinian people has not been fulfilled,
- and to urge effective action to promote justice, security and peace for Israelis and Palestinians.
Duties of the Fellows
The Fellows will be expected to take part in campus events across London organised by groups on both sides of the “Israel/Palestine” debate, attempting to ensure that these debates are genuinely pluralistic by putting forward the Balfour Project Approach in interventions from the floor and/or as speakers.
The Fellows will also assist the Balfour Project by helping to organise a meeting the Balfour Project will wish to hold on a London campus which is intended:
(a) to focus on Britain’s failure to live up to its historic responsibility in Palestine, and
(b) to call upon Britain to take the lead in promoting peace based on the rights of the parties in international law.
The fellows will work closely with, and will always be subject to, supervision by the Balfour Project team administering the fellowship scheme. If this pilot is successful, the intention is to appoint further fellowships during the 2020-21 academic year and expand the scheme to other academic institutions.