Holy Land: Heads of Churches voice concern about Israel’s planned annexation of West Bank land

11 European ambassadors warn Israel against West Bank annexation

Eleven European ambassadors to Israel on Thursday warned Jerusalem of severe consequences if it moves ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank as part of a government coalition deal.

The envoys from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and the EU issued a formal objection to the Foreign Ministry against the move, Channel 13 reported.

The ambassadors made the protest during a video conference with the Foreign Ministry’s Europe deputy, Anna Azari.

“We are very concerned about the clause in the coalition agreement that paves the way for annexing parts of the West Bank. The annexation of any part of the West Bank constitutes a clear violation of international law,” the ambassadors said. “Such unilateral steps will harm efforts to renew the peace process and will have grave consequences for regional stability and for Israel’s standing in the international arena.”

The envoys also demanded a freeze on government plans to allow construction in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Also on Thursday, the Arab League said that the planned annexation constituted a “new war crime” against the Palestinians during a virtual conference chaired in Cairo.

“The implementation of plans to annex any part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including the Jordan Valley… and the lands on which Israeli settlements are standing represents a new war crime… against the Palestinian people,” Arab foreign ministers said in a joint statement.

Meet our Balfour Project Peace Advocacy Fellows

UK Government affirms its position that Israel’s annexation plans of occupied Palestinian territory is contrary to international law

Letter from Claudia Beamish MSP to Dominic Raab MP

This is a letter from Claudia Beamish MSPMember of the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland, to the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, 
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commenwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State.

Letter from Lisa Nandy MP to Dominic Raab MP

This is a letter from Lisa Nandy MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commenwealth Affairs, to the Rt Hon Dominic Raab, 
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commenwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State.

The “Deal” of the Century?

Nabil Fahmy writes: ‘The Trump plan imposes Israeli security and economic control over a self-autonomous Palestinian entity’

See Sir Vincent Fean’s thoughts on Nabil Fahmy’s suggestions for Palestine policy.

‘Coronavirus a gift to Netanyahu’: Activists slam Gantz, Netanyahu annexation plans

After over a year of back and forth, and multiple stalemates, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz have finally come to an agreement, paving the way for the establishment of a Likud-Kahol Lavan unity government. Their first order of business? Annexing the West Bank.

UK ‘must be pressed to recognise Palestinian state’: ex-diplomat

The status quo in the occupied Palestinian territories is ‘unacceptable’, said Sir Vincent Fean.

by Alasdair Soussi

Trump’s Plan for Palestine Looks a Lot Like Apartheid

Israel has long resisted the South Africa analogy, but the U.S. government’s support for annexation is making it a reality.

By Alon Liel

Grave concern about US plan to resolve Israel-Palestine conflict

Donald Trump’s Peace to Prosperity plan for the Middle East envisages an outcome with characteristics similar to apartheid, say 50 former foreign ministers and leaders from across Europe. For all the signatories see the full letter in the Guardian,

Quakers in Britain recruiting for Ecumenical accompaniers.

We believe that everyone can take action to help end the occupation and bring about a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis. We need a movement of people who can take action for peace. Will you join us?

Labour condemns government for praising Trump Middle East plan

Emily Thornberry accuses Boris Johnson’s administration of ‘shameful betrayal’

See the speech here

MEPP: Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell on the US initiative

Brussels, 04/02/2020 – 13:00, UNIQUE ID: 200204_8 Statements by the HR/VP

The European Union is fully committed to the transatlantic partnership and values all efforts to help find a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU recalls its commitment to a negotiated two-State solution, based on 1967 lines, with equivalent land swaps, as may be agreed between the parties, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition – as set out in the Council Conclusions of July 2014. 

The US initiative, as presented on 28 January, departs from these internationally agreed parameters.

To build a just and lasting peace, the unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between both parties. This includes notably the issues related to borders, the status of Jerusalem, security and the refugee question. 

The European Union calls on both sides to re-engage and to refrain from any unilateral actions contrary to international law that could exacerbate tensions. We are especially concerned by statements on the prospect of annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank. In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the EU does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967. Steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.

The European Union will continue to support all efforts aimed at reviving a political process in line with international law, which ensures equal rights and which is acceptable to both parties. The EU will engage with both parties, with actors in the region and all international partners. In this context, the European Union reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, including with regard to current and emerging threats in the region.

The response to Trump’s peace plan should be – recognise Palestine now

As we leave the EU, we need to show that we are not Trump’s poodle. Britain must therefore publicly be seen to reject the wholesale attack on the rule of international law that is unfortunately an important element in Trump’s so-called “deal of the century”, his plan for peace between Israel and Palestine.
Read more.  John McHugo writing in the Liberal Democrat Voice

Letter from 133 UK parliamentarians rejecting US ‘peace plan’, calling for action against Israeli annexation

A letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from 133 MPs and peers, from all parties, reacting to US President Trump’s ‘peace plan’, has been sent. In it, the parliamentarians express their grave concern over the plan’s contents, which they say “shows contempt for the aspirations and rights of the Palestinian people and international law, and provides no realistic basis for a return to negotiations.” Read More

Bishops reject “Peace for Prosperity” plan and insist on the upholding of international law and human rights for all in the Holy Land

Our governments have a responsibility to uphold international law and protect human dignity in the Holy Land. This unilateral initiative does not do so.

We are extremely concerned that the UK government has welcomed the proposal. The government should continue to insist upon meaningful dialogue, a viable two-state solution and the application of international law. Read more

Last May, a group of UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations working to support the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people raised the alarmover President Trump’s so-called ‘peace plan’. Since then, we have witnessed only further devastating human impacts of occupation: increasing rates of demolition of Palestinian structures and the displacement of families, obstruction of access to healthcare and education, and the chronic deterioration of the Palestinian economy which is leading to unemployment and destruction of livelihoods. Read more

Prince Charles delivers a strong message of support for the plight of the Palestinian people

The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, has spoken to what he termed “the peoples of all three great Abrahamic religions” during his visit last week to the Holy Land, where he attended the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, then travelled to the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Speaking at the Church of the Nativity, in the occupied city of Bethlehem, he told Palestinians that “it breaks my heart…that we should see so much suffering and division. No-one arriving in Bethlehem today could miss the signs of continued hardship and the situation you face, and I can only join you, and all communities, in your prayers for a just and lasting peace.” He went on: ” It is my dearest wish that the future will bring freedom, justice and equality to all Palestinians..”

Read the open letter to Boris Johnson from Sir Vincent Fean

Letter to The Times: The time is right to recognise Palestine.

The EU has a duty to recognise the state of Palestine

Saeb Erekat

After nearly two years, on Monday 20 January, the foreign ministers of the European Union will meet, with the issue of Palestine officially on the agenda. They’ll discuss the letter signed by the foreign minister of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, calling for European recognition of the state of PalestineRead more

Peace advocacy fellowship scheme

The Balfour Project is proud to launch 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. The three successful applicants will be appointed to a fellowship for the second semester of this academic year and will be asked to campaign for peace on the basis of the Balfour Project Approach. Read more…

Equal Rights in One State

Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian-British academic and longtime activist for Palestnian rights, writes in the current issue of the London Review of Books ( December 5, 2019) that now that the whole of Israel-Palestine is a single entity under Israel’s rule, a Palestinian state is close to being an impossibility: “a constantly delayed, endlessly receding prospect.” The only solution, she argues, is for the Palestinians to demand civil and political rights on an equal basis with the rest of the population under Israel’s jurisdiction. There is, she says,” no longer any other way forward…”

LRB Cover

The US policy shift on Israeli settlements will not stop Palestinians persevering  by Raja Shehadeh

Palestinians are surrounded by settlers and abandoned by the west, but this latest setback will only boost support for their cause

Israeli border police guard Ofra: ‘The settlement never defined a jurisdictional area, never had an outline plan approved and no lawful building permits were issued.’Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA


Let’s not pretend Washington ever really tried to stop Israeli settlements

Aaron David Miller and Daniel Kurtzer, The Washington Post Published 6:19 am EST, Friday, November 22, 2019

By most accounts, the Trump administration’s decision to treat Israel’s settlement enterprise as a legal endeavor is a retreat by the United States from an almost universally accepted norm of international law. The United States and the current Israeli government are now outliers and isolated. The decision – untethered as it is from any serious strategy to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace – has further compromised, if not killed, Washington’s credibility and its role as an honest broker in any conceivable peace deal for the remainder of this presidency.


Confederation can’t answer the most important issue in Israel-Palestine

By Henriette Chacar July 2, 2019

Any framework that comes to replace the two-state solution must aspire toward decolonization, and accept that Zionism and full civic equality are irreconcilable.


Exclusive: chief Palestinian diplomat in UK tells JC Britain must lead on Middle East peace

In a wide ranging interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Husam Zomlot the head of the Palestinian mission in Britain underlines that Britain must lead on Middle East peace.


Britain needs to recognise Palestine as an independent state: by Ian Black

It’s time to get off the fence and resolve this most toxic of global conflicts in the only way possible

Europe must stand by the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine

High-ranking former European politicians urge the EU to reject any US Middle East peace plan unless it is fair to Palestinians

Michelle Alexander, writes in the New York times:

Martin Luther King Jr. courageously spoke out about the Vietnam War. We must do the same when it comes to this grave injustice of our time….

Ten years after the first war on Gaza, Israel still plans endless brute force 

A foremost historian of the Middle East and the Israel-Palestine crisis, Avi Shlaim, professor emeritus of international relations at Oxford, writes in the Guardian, January 8   of the beginning of the current cycle of major Israeli military assaults on the Gaza Strip.. He marks the tenth anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, December 2008-January 2009, in which 1,417 Gazans were killed, 313 of them children. The Israeli death toll was 13. Professor Shlaim reveals that Hamas, which controls Gaza, had sent in early December 2008 a written proposal (via an American go-between from the [Jimmy] Carter Center for Conflict Resolution) to a senior Israeli military figure, offering to restore the June 2008 ceasefire, which had held until Israel broke it that November.  Israel ignored this December 2008 Hamas approach and launched its Cast Lead Operation at the end of that month. 

UK says new housing units in West Bank ‘unacceptable

The Israeli government’s announcement to “advance over 2,800 housing units” in West Bank settlements is “unacceptable and disappointing,” a senior British minister said Thursday, says Anadolu Agency.

Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said:

Such actions are illegal under international law and call into question Israel’s commitment to any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Middle East Peace Process: the E8 reaffirm support to two-state solution

The Governments of the U.K., France and 5 more EU members have reaffirmed their commitment to 2 states – Israel and Palestine – in the Holy Land. Their 18 December statement is a diplomatic warning that President Trump’s still-awaited “deal of the century” is all too likely to ignore international law and the commitment to 2 sovereign states.  Read the full statement here

Netherworld by Ari Shavit

Can Gaza ever be more than an insoluble problem? read more

EIRIS Foundation – International Trade Policies

 Access to markets affects business decisions. Various international trade policies affect the import and export of goods and services to and from occupied territories. Below you will find links to major international trade policies affecting access to and from markets in Crimea and Palestine.

EU Support for the US Peace Plan Must be Based on Parameters

The Trump administration may not have yet formally unveiled its peace plan, but it is already moving to reshape the traditional realities that have governed the middle east peace process since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords….

Gaza’s fragile calm: The search for lasting stability

  • Intensive UN and Egyptian efforts to mediate between Israel and Hamas have staved off an immediate return to conflict in Gaza. This is a quick fix that buys badly needed time to find a longer-term solution.
  • Gaza’s problems are fundamentally political, resulting from restrictions imposed by Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, as well as internal Palestinian divisions.
  • The EU should lead collective action to challenge the political obstacles to lasting stability, developing a more realistic political map that can guide its technical and financial support for Gaza.
  • The EU needs to promote moderating policies that can shift Israel, the PA, and Hamas away from putting their rivalries with one another before all else.
  • The EU should also see Gaza as a springboard for Palestinian reunification and sovereignty-building.

Latest Invest in Peace events

Invest in Peace invites Christian and Jewish communities in Britain to come together in support of Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding projects. The events provide the opportunity to hear from two bereaved parents, one Israeli and one Palestinian, who promote reconciliation as an alternative to revenge – Robi Damelin and Bassam Aramin, members of the Parents Circle – Families Forum.

Times letter, 13 September – The Oslo Accords, 25 years on: time to recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel

“Sir, It is painful now to recall the hope we had in the Oslo Accords. Twenty-five years on, cynicism and resignation rule. The Israeli occupation since 1967 has become so entrenched that it is hard to see  beyond it. There is a better way, …” Read More

WCC and local churches express deep concern about Jewish Nation-State Law

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, stressed “this is about the Holy land and holy places of three religions. Jerusalem must be a shared one.”

‘Middle East peace is my life’s mission’: Prince William’s pledge after Israel visit

Prince William has pledged to make peace in the Middle East his “lifelong project” after his historic trip to the region.

The 36-year-old father of three was so moved by the stories of those he met – especially the suffering endured by youngsters – he even personally rewrote half an official speech to reflect his own feelings.

He might not be able to bring about change in the near future but the British government could and should play a more active role in rescuing the two-states solution.

Bishops condemn deaths in Gaza

Two Balfour Project patrons Bishop Declan Lang and Bishop Christopher Chessun write: “The terrible loss of life in Gaza caused by the Israeli army’s use of live fire against civilians is to be condemned unequivocally.

Watch: Westminster Balfour Declaration event – film Independent Catholic News Dec 15th

Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration Exposes the true Essence of Zionism , it’s a global ideology espoused and funded by Christians. Haaretz, Dec 15th
Britain’s Broken Promise Joint Public Issues Nov 2nd
Balfour Declaration Centennial Wasn’t About Israel or Palestine. It Was About U.K.’s Delusions of GrandeurHaaretz Nov 2nd
Balfour 100: Senior Church figures lament Britain’s ‘broken promise’ to the Palestinians.Christian Today Nov 1st
Faith leaders and politicians speak of Britain’s Broken Balfour Promise Independent Catholic News Nov 1st
Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a New Approach Bishop Declan Lang’s speech Nov 1st

Recent press articlesand the report of Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a New approach

Prominent Israelis call for recognition of Palestine
British responsibility for the contradictions in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute gives the UK a duty to right a wrong, says Nicholas Frayling in the Church Times:  A policy of 1917 whose legacy needs addressing.

The Balfour Centenary Declaration was launched at a press conference in Parliament on October 31st.

The Guardian’s Long Read of 17 October was headlined ‘Britain’s calamitous promise’. Author Ian Black writes ‘The brief document that bears Balfour’s name is seen as marking the beginning of what is today widely considered the world’s most intractable conflict.’

100 Shades of Grey – From Balfour to Banksy: Divisions and Visions in Palestine This new film   Directed by Martin Buckley and Produced by Miranda Pinch. Nov 1st 2-4pm 30 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0QB

Amos Trust are organising their   Just Walk to Jerusalem 2017  It’s very simple – we’re asking for full equal rights for everybody who calls the Holy Land home.

Donald Macintyre in the Guardian (13 October) 

‘A chance to make good on Britain’s broken promise’ is the heading to his article. It is sub-headed ‘A century after the Balfour Declaration, the UK should acknowledge its role in Palestinian suffering’.

‘That outstanding broken promise is a theme of one of the most interesting forthcoming public meetings on Balfour on 31 October,’ it continued, ‘which will “acknowledge Britain’s historic responsibilities in the Middle East” and commit to “supporting Palestinians and Israelis in building a peaceful future based on equal rights for all.”’

This was a reference to the event at Central Hall Westminster when British leaders – political, religious and academic – will speak on ‘Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a New Approach’.

100 Years After Balfour is a new talking heads film made by Independent Jewish Voices.

The film spells out the troubling legacy of the Balfour Declaration, challenging the notion that this year’s centenary is cause for celebration, given the grave consequences of the document for Palestinians above all. The film goes on to explain how the decisions of the British government in 1917 are linked to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, its fifty year occupation of the West Bank since 1967, and today’s political gridlock. 100 Years After Balfour features seven experts and activists: Professor Avi Shlaim, Professor Jacqueline Rose, Rabbi Howard Cooper, Professor Brian Klug, Antony Lerman, Barnaby Raine and Miri Weingarten.

October 7th MEMO hosted a conference in the British Library entitled ‘Palestine, Britain and the Balfour Declaration 100 years on’  Dr Peter Shambrook one of the Balfour Project Trustees was one of the contributors,

On Wednesday Oct 4 there was a spirited debate on this Declaration and some of its deleterious effects at the Frontline journalists’ Club in London.

Read the article , Unfinished business? Seeking peace through the door of justice in the Holy Land by The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling, Dean Emeritus of Chichester in the Pax Christi newsletter of June – July  2017

Parallel Histories has launched a Balfour Film Competition for schools to make a 2 minute film to address the question, “Should Britain be praised or blamed for the Balfour Declaration?”.

On Saturday 18th March, Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (LDFP) held a fringe event about the Balfour Declaration at their Spring Conference in York.  They advertised the event at our conference stall, and filled the room with an audience of 45.   Nasser Butt was in the Chair and showed the Balfour Project film ‘Britain in Palestine, 1917-1948’.  After this Jonathan Coulter gave a talk highlighting Britain’s historical responsibility and making the case for an apology.  Then Tom Brake, the Foreign Affairs spokesman, spoke of the Balfour Project (of which he is a patron) and related matters, and there followed a lively discussion, notably as to how the Party should handle the Israeli/Palestinian cause internally, and about the viability of a ‘Two-State Solution’.  All the feedback on the meeting was very positive, adding to the strong impact of LDFP’s conference stall.  We signed up many new supporters, to whom we shall continue communicating through our newsletters about the Balfour centenary.

16th February 2017 The Earl of Balfour calls for Palestinian state to honour ancestor’s declaration In a letter to the New York Times the 5th Earl, Roderick Balfour acknowledged that while one part of the Balfour Declaration, which gave Jews a homeland in Palestine, had been fulfilled, the other, respecting the rights of the native Palestinian population, had not.

25th January  2017 The joint public issues team of the Baptists, Church of Scotland and Methodists published an article entitled: Marking the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration that promised a homeland for the Jewish people. They link to articles on the Balfour Project web site.

19th January 2017 Professor Avi Shlaim writes: British policy towards Palestine reveals a persistent pro-Israeli bias, from Lord Balfour to Theresa May in a recent article entitled Perfidious Albion and Israel-Palestine.  He quotes an article on the Balfour Project web site on the promise to the Arabs.

9th January 2017 The Methodist recorder had an article on the Balfour Project in the Methodist recorder . It was produced by Christians Aware.

In November 16th 2016 the House of Commons debated the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration. The debate was secured by Caroline Ansell a Conservative friend of Israel. However, many MPs commented on the unfinished business of the Declaration, the promise to protect the rights of the Arab population which had not yet been fulfilled. Tom Brake noted that he was a Patron of the Balfour Project and gave our aims. He finished by saying:

The UK has a particular historical responsibility towards the Palestinian people. We failed to honour our promises nearly 100 years ago. We have a duty now to actively support the peace process and to secure a viable Palestinian state. That is what our Government must do—indeed, a number of Members have said today that they want the Government to do it. It will be the most effective and meaningful way of marking the Balfour declaration and would mean that in future years its anniversary could be celebrated by both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people.

Tobias Ellwood, Minister for the Middle East and Africa, spoke:

The Balfour Declaration had its flaws. It called for the protection of the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. It should have protected their political rights too, most especially their right to self-determination…. The seriousness of the situation faced by millions still affected by the conflict is testament to the fact that the achievement of Jewish and Palestinian self-determination in the former British mandate of Palestine is a task as yet unfulfilled.

5th Nov  2016  Balfour Project had a conference in Southwark Cathedral, entitled ‘How will we mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration’

2nd Oct  2016 Balfour Project’s Liverpool conference ‘Balfour Declaration Centenary, 2017: towards constructive commemoration’

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