Parliamentary panel – Jack Straw, Wayne David MP, Layla Moran MP, Joanna Cherry QC MP, moderated by Lord Alderdice

Speaking at the Balfour Project online 2-day conference “Israel/Palestine: in search of the rule of law” on 25/26 May 2021.

Click here to view the other speakers at the conference.

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Lord Alderdice:

Wayne David is Member of Parliament for Caerphilly for the last 20 years. I think this is your 20th anniversary, Wayne. It’s very good to have you. Shadow Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, but previously with other portfolios for the Labour Party, of which he is a distinguished member.

Joanna Cherry from the SNP. Joanna is MP for Edinburgh South West and Deputy Chair of the Joint House of Lords and Commons Committee on Human Rights and, of course, was very important in that legal case on the Prorogation of Parliament, the Article 50 case. What is that, two years ago now? My goodness. Time flies. 

Layla Moran, who is, of course, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon. Not very far away from where I now live, having moved over from Belfast to the glories of Oxfordshire. Layla is the Lib Dem Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesman.

So very welcome to all three of you. 

Wayne David:

Thank you very much indeed, John. Can I begin by saying that my thanks very much to the organisers of this conference. It’s an important conference. I believe it comes at an absolutely critical and crucial time. So thank you very much, indeed.

In the House of Commons last week, I moved an urgent question calling for an immediate ceasefire of hostilities. The government responded for the first time calling for an immediate ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. In that statement I made at the House of Commons, I referred to the deaths of innocent people, both Israelis and Palestinians, and condemned the Hamas rockets which were being launched and also the disproportionate retaliative airstrikes which the Israelis were conducting.

I also called for a focus on the root causes, the fundamental causes of this immediate conflagration. I referred in particular to what had happened at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where there’d been an appalling violation of one of the most important places of worship by the Israeli security forces. I also referred to the evictions at Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. 

I called for immediate action to diffuse these tensions, particularly in East Jerusalem, and concerted action to address the fundamental humanitarian situation in Gaza, focusing on humanitarian aid, but also the transference of fuel to help the all-important, one and only power station in Gaza. I think it’s worth noting that the Labour Party’s policy is that there should be an end to the blockade of Gaza.

In that Urgent Question request, I was pleased to have cross-party support. That’s an important point, I think, to stress, but I also called, in my Urgent Question request, for action to restart a meaningful peace process. I believe that central to a new peace process must be a commitment to the adherence to international law, no ifs or buts about that. As the Labour Party, we support the International Criminal Court investigation into alleged war crimes in the Occupied Territories and totally have condemned Boris Johnson’s attack upon the International Court and this investigation. 

It’s worth noting that in January of last year, when President Trump proposed his annexation plan for large parts of the West Bank, the Labour Party carefully stated that, if these plans were implemented, the United Kingdom state should introduce a ban on goods which were imported from the illegal settlements of the West Bank and also from any part of the West Bank which was illegally annexed by the State of Israel.

Now our opposition at that time was based primarily on our view that it is a flagrant breach of international law. Such breaches must, in our view, face consequences. Now, since then, Lisa Nandy and myself have put our names to a declaration signed by a number of our European parliamentarians, which has pointed out, as was referred to earlier in the conference, about although de jure annexation may have come to an end, nevertheless, de facto annexation is still taking place. 

One of the things that we have to consider as a country and as a Labour Party is: What is our response to a situation whereby we might see the continuation of illegal settlement programs and these occurring especially in East Jerusalem and the necessary infrastructure which has been placed by the Israeli State to aid communications for Israelis only?

Now, we’re quite clear as a Labour Party that we are against the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement, but I think there’s an onus on us to consider carefully what measures need to be taken in the near future if real progressive measures are not introduced, as a matter of urgency, by the Israeli State. 

The question of settlements and new infrastructure are important in themselves, but they’re also important because they make a two-state solution extremely difficult to achieve. 

A final point I’d make is this: if we believe in a two-state solution, as I strongly do, we need to recognise Palestine as a state. I don’t doubt that there are difficulties with the implementation of such a declaration and its definition, but I believe it is high time to follow the example of 140 other countries who have decided to recognise the State of Palestine. I believe we should do the same.

Lord Alderdice:

Thank you very much, indeed, Wayne. Joanna, can we come to you now, please?

Joanna Cherry QC:

Thank you very much, John, and thank you for inviting me to take part this afternoon. I managed to hear Jack’s presentation, which I found very interesting, and I managed to hear some of the earlier presentations this afternoon before I had to leave for a committee meeting. 

I think one of the most important things that parliamentarians can do in relation to this issue is to visit the occupied territories. Quite hard to visit Gaza now, but to visit on proper parliamentary delegations and then to come back and call out what they have seen there, as Jack said, in detail with granular examples of human rights breaches that parliamentarians have observed.

In October 2016, I was lucky enough to get to visit the West Bank as part of a cross-party delegation, and for me it was a profoundly affecting experience, because despite my interest in current affairs and international affairs, I really had no idea of the size and the scale of the settlements on the ground. Seeing how large they were, how well serviced they are, how well entrenched they are, made it plain to me the practical scale of the difficulty we’re facing in achieving a two-state solution.

Equally, as somebody who’d come very recently from law into politics, I was profoundly shocked by the human rights abuses I witnessed in the Occupied Territory, and what seemed to me, at least insofar as the Palestinian population is concerned, to be an absence of the rule of law and proper human rights protections. By that I mean state-sanctioned theft of property, state-sanctioned theft of natural resources and the scandalous treatment of people in military detention, particularity the children.

Just to give one example, I went to observe trials at the military court at Ofer one of the trials we observed was of a young Palestinian man who’d allegedly thrown stones at a settler car. The man’s interrogator, who the defendant had claimed had assaulted him during the interrogation, was standing there in court as a witness, casually dressed, with his gun casually slung in the back pocket of his jeans. He claimed that the interrogation was conducted in Arabic and that an audio recording had been made. However, the audio recording was nowhere to be found, and it was quite clear that the level of the interrogator’s Arabic was revealed to be such, under cross-examination, to be insufficient to obtain and record a fair statement. The only transcript of the interview was in Hebrew, which the young Palestinian man didn’t speak.

In any democracy where fair trials take place, in a democracy that respects the rule of law, that case would have been thrown out, but it wasn’t. That’s an example that I’ve used repeatedly since I’ve come back, to outline a concrete example of what’s wrong with the system that we observe there. 

I mean, I suppose it might be helpful if I set out briefly what the Scottish National Party’s policy on Israel-Palestine is. We’ve called for Palestine to be recognised as an independent state. We’ve called for that repeatedly. The Scottish Parliament has passed a motion to that effect, but the Scottish Parliament does have any foreign competencies at present. So that’s more of a symbolic act, but the SNP in government in Edinburgh do try to take what actions they can with the powers they have. In line with other governments in Europe, we don’t boycott goods from any one country. We don’t boycott Israeli goods, but we expect companies that are awarding public standards to avoid trade with companies active in Israeli settlements. The Scottish Government published some guidance on that for public procurement. 

We want the International Criminal Court to carry out its investigations, particularly into the recent evictions of Muslim Israelis from East Jerusalem without hindrance and we’ve called upon the Israeli government to reconsider its position of non-cooperation with that. Like the Labour Party, we abhor Johnson’s position on this. 

Our spokesperson at Westminster has also recently raised the issue of arms exports from the United Kingdom to Israel. UK arms export licenses to Israel have increased by over 1000% in the past two years, and to us, this seems unacceptable in a situation where some of these arms are clearly being used to commit illegal acts, war crimes, targeting, group punishment of the civilian populations. 

What I will say is that I’ve noticed, since I became a Member of Parliament, that Palestine is one of the issues that my constituents are most likely to write to me about and most likely to ask me about if they come to a surgery about a policy issue as opposed to a problem. It’s an issue that comes up again and again and again at public meetings and there’s clearly a very strong groundswell of support among ordinary people in Scotland and England and indeed across the UK who really care passionately about this.

Equally, I would have to say I have constituents who would be very keen I would always be careful to condemn the terrorist activities of Hamas, which of course I do, but I think one of the most important things that we can do as parliamentarians who aren’t in government is to keep reiterating in Parliament and in the press the legal arguments that we’ve heard over the last couple of days, and as Jack said, to go out there, see for ourselves and to bear witness in detail about what it is that we’ve seen so that the United Kingdom government can hear that what is the position on the ground in the Occupied Territories is completely unacceptable.

Just very quickly and briefly, before I hand over to others, in the Queens’s Speech, the British government made a big song and dance about the importance of upholding human rights and democracy across the world. If that is their position, then where is their commitment to doing that for the Palestinian people? 

So we need to make the United Kingdom put its money where its mouth is in relation to this commitment to human rights across the world, without fear or favour. So less warm words and more actual action from the British government.

Lord Alderdice:

Joanna, thank you very much indeed. You’ve been very clear there. So I wonder if I could turn now to Layla? Layla Moran.

Layla Moran MP:

Thank you, John. Thank you everybody. Jack and Wayne and Joanna, I think there’s absolutely nothing that you’ve said that I’ve disagreed with. In Jack’s case, especially at the end when you were talking about how we are hopefully going to get back to some peace process and how that will happen on the international stage. That’s great to hear. 

Let me just quickly outline. The Liberal Democrat position is currently almost exactly where the Labour Party and the SNP are. I think actually the opposition are pretty united about this, but what I would also say is the Conservative party, whilst there are those who seem to absolutely refuse to understand the situation, there are also those who I think – It really angers me when they seem to conflate all of Palestine and Palestinians with Hamas. It angers me on a personal level because they do not speak for me. They do not speak for my family. They do not speak for most of -In fact all Palestinians I know, when we have these conversations. What the Palestinians that I speak to want is peace and it’s peace in a two-state solution where we are recognised. The point around recognition is it is helpful in terms of having two equal partners coming to some kind of table. If you point to where it has failed in the past, that is clearly one of the failings of past negotiations.

It also helps to do something that is just that bit more subtle but even more important, which is the erosion of Palestinian culture and heritage at the moment, A genuine feeling that if we let things go on as we are, I will say to my children, ‘Well, I used to be Palestinian’, because there is no semblance of what that country actually means anymore, which is a very different point of view from my mother, who grew up in Jericho and her father who grew up in Jerusalem, and this is my great-grandfather, who’s there on purpose. This is Wasif Jawhariyyeh, whose diary some of you may even have read, who chronicled what it used to be like. 

The idea that we’re painted as these extremists who are in any way okay with what happens to ordinary Israeli citizens and children is disgusting to me. I think we absolutely need to keep making that clear to people.

Given that this is held by the Balfour Project and it’s the Balfour Declaration, of course, that caused so many of these issues, not least the lack of political rights for Palestinians, I think one thing that I would want to see, in addition to what many have already mentioned, is pressure on the Israeli government to allow campaigning in Jerusalem as part of Palestinian elections. We have to do everything that we can now to bolster the idea of a Palestinian state with its own cultural identity, with its own heritage, with its own political system, as deeply flawed as that is. Frankly, even in this country we see how rickety democracy can be, occasionally.

The argument that you cannot possibly recognise the State of Palestine… ‘Well who would you recognise?’ Well, my answer to that question is: Me. What you are recognising is the fact that me and my family are Palestinian, feel Palestinian and the State is where we consider home or at least half of home. My dad’s English, but he would agree. I think that is such an incredible move that this country could make that would allow families like mine, who have been campaigning on this from before we were born, to continue that fight within Israel/Palestine.

Then just very quickly, from a parliamentarian’s point of view, to the thesis question of what can we do to uphold international law, whilst the UN and the International Criminal Court and all these organisations have never been more rickety, and this is certainly a legacy of Trump and others who have sought to undermine those international organisations, there is a really important part we all play in giving them the legitimacy that they deserve and that they need, in order to do the work that they do. 

I think that’s why, equally, it’s as important to make sure that we put pressure on Boris Johnson to retract his words about not recognising the investigation from the International Criminal Court because we have to get the evidence. Without the evidence, we then can’t move to definitions of apartheid and everything else, which many, I’m sure, who are watching want people to be able to say more robustly, but we shouldn’t and can’t go there unless we allow the work of the courts to do their job.

At the moment, we can’t. We have no legitimacy as a country in pushing for that because of Boris Johnson’s stance. So please continue to push him, everyone here, by writing to their Conservative MPs, if they’ve got them, about how undermining that was, not just to the cause of Israel/Palestine, but to the International Criminal Court and the international rule of law and the systems that governs that as a whole.

Lord Alderdice:

Well thank you very much indeed, Layla, and indeed, thank you Jack and Wayne and Joanna as well. Now we’ve had lots and lots of questions in the chat and in various other ways, as you can imagine. 

The Balfour Declaration, of course, came in in 1917, and around about the same time, we moved, or shortly afterwards, to the partition of Ireland. In the Balfour Declaration, it was supposed to be that there would be a state for the Jewish people and a state for the Palestinians. In the case of Ireland, there would be the North, the South and there was to be a Council of Ireland that would hold them together. Well, the truth is that neither of these declarations were implemented fully at all. Instead, we got prolonged division, going on for generations.

In the case of Ireland, of course, as you know, we ended up having to engage in a process that led to negotiations with the IRA and others on the Loyalist side who’d been involved in terrorist activities too, and eventually, the Good Friday Agreement and the whole political process that developed from that. 

Two things came out of that for me. The first one was that when I started to get involved in looking at things in Israel/Palestine, it seemed clear to me that the read-across was that I needed to be prepared to talk to people in Hamas, in Hezbollah, to the settlers, people on all sides, to try to reach some kind of understanding and accomodation.

There’s a lot that one could say about that, but there is a question that comes from it, which I want to put to you. Along with the question which all of you have hinted at, or maybe even more than hinted at, but I’d just like to be very clear about it, and that’s recognition of a Palestine state. As has been said earlier already in this conference, Ireland has decided that it is moving in that direction, even in the last few days.

So the two questions I would like to put back to all four of you are: First of all, are you saying that the United Kingdom government should recognise the State of Palestine now, and I presume, but please clarify, that we’re talking about Palestine on the 1967 borders, not what has happened since then, the Swiss cheese variety of Palestine? Secondly, what about engaging with Hamas? Because it seems to me difficult to believe that there can be any negotiated settlement now without the representation of Hamas in a political form. Jack, let’s come to you first. Then we’ll through all four in just a couple of minutes, if we may.

Jack Straw:

Okay. On the recognition by the United Kingdom of a State of Palestine, the answer as far as I’m concerned, unequivocally, is yes. Wayne has said the same. When I was in the House, I think it was in 2013, we voted from the backbenches, where I then was, and frontbench for a recognition for the State of Palestine. We sadly lost the vote, but the position is very clear.

On this issue of ‘What is it you’re recognising?’ Layla said that people say, ‘Well, what are you recognising?’ Well, you’re recognising the territory and interestingly, the Foreign Office has, for a very long time, explained why it has relations with horrible states, which you have to have, by saying, ‘Our recognition is not about the government of the time being, but it’s for that territory.’ So I’m absolutely clear about that.

On your second point, should we talk to terrorists? Well, yes. Just bear in mind that the state of Israel, the Jewish part of it, was forged partly from terrorism. I mean, it’s just a fact of life. One understands the desperation of people who were fleeing from Europe, but the Irgun and the Stern Gang were the people who, for example, murdered Lord Moran, who was the British Minister in Cairo. They blew up the King David Hotel and killed a lot of innocent Brits as well as, if you like, military targets, as well as committing atrocities against Palestinians at that time. 

The Israelis know that. Now back in 2005, it was, when I was in Jerusalem, but I got into terrible trouble when I briefed, off the record, some journalists, one of whom then broke the fact that that was the condition, that we, in certain circumstances, yes of course we should talk to Hamas. It’s just worth bearing in mind that the Israelis are talking to Hamas every day. They are very realistic about where the power is. 

Now the crucial thing is in the way we talk to Hamas. We shouldn’t big them up to the exclusion of the vast majority of Palestinians not only in the West Bank but in Gaza, who can’t stand Hamas and their methods, and recognise, too, this reality, which, I’m quoting from Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, that there is this terrible but powerful Faustian pact between Hamas and Netanyahu to exclude all the moderate groups in Palestine.

Joanna Cherry QC:

Thank you. Yes, I think the United Kingdom should recognise the State of Palestine now on its 1967 borders. I think that would be a sign of good faith to the Palestinians to show them how serious the United Kingdom is about a two-state solution. What I would say about that is that if the Vatican can recognise the State of Palestine, then so can the United Kingdom.

Moving on to the more difficult question, which is tricky for all politicians in case one’s words are taken out of context, what I would say is if the British government can sit down at the table with the Irish Republican Army, then the Israeli government can sit down at a table with Hamas if the conditions are right. It is doable. 

There is precedent for this. Like Ireland, I suspect the Americans will have to be central to the putting in place of the conditions for any such getting together. That, of course, is problematic, for reasons that Jack and others have addressed. It’s possibly a little bit more hope under a Biden administration than what we had before. What we had before was not much hope for anything, frankly, but with a Democrat administration, there’s possibly a bit more hope, but they face their own challenges as has been described. 

So I think yes, provided the conditions are right, then just as the British government sat down with the IRA, then the Israeli government could sit down with Hamas and, in my view, should if the conditions are right.

Wayne David:

Can I begin by saying I agree with Jack absolutely regarding recognition of the State of Palestine. On the second point, and I take what Joanna’s said about the sensitivity of this and this being open to misrepresentation, but I think it’s important to recognise that we are obliged to have dialogue with, negotiate with people who are elected. We’re talking about elections in the West Bank or Gaza. The other point I’d make is that, again, taking one of the points which Jack has made a couple of times, which is absolutely fundamental to understanding where we are. That is there is an informal Faustian pact between Netanyahu and Hamas, because Netanyahu wants to stay in power.

He deliberately contrived a situation in East Jerusalem. We’ve had a number of reports about how Netanyahu refused to intervene to prevent escalation taking place. Hamas predictably responded as he thought they would. Their objective is short term. They want to be identified as the leaders of the Palestinian people as a whole. I think it is incumbent upon us, therefore, to basically bring people together, to create a middle ground once again because I agree very much what Layla is saying. 

Most Israelis, most Palestinians want to live in peace. The two-state solution can be viable if people wish it to be so. It’s a question of going beyond the political superstructures that are erected on both sides at the moment and ensure that there’s enough space to have a reasonable discission, reasonable negotiation, and eventually moving towards a two-state solution.

Can I say one final point? It touches upon something you were saying earlier, John. I think there are lessons to be learned from what has happened in Northern Ireland. It’s very difficult to see a peace process imposing a settlement on people. I think we need to have the space and the United States of America has a critical role to play here, where people are brought together to live together and mutually respect each other, but I think the peace fund that was established in Ireland, can be with variations, looked at very carefully, and perhaps, adopted by the international community here.

Lord Alderdice:

Thanks very much Wayne. That is a very important point, the idea of an international fund for Palestine, mirroring the international fund for Ireland, is, I think, a very important proposition, certainly one that I can strongly support, and I think many of us can. So thank you very much for flagging that up. Layla, may I come to you?

Layla Moran MP:

Thank you. So to your point about recognition, yes. It wasn’t until probably my mid-20s that I realised that one of the States that I belonged to didn’t recognise the other one that I do belong to, but it just struck me as just utterly bizarre. It should have been done a long time ago. Because of our role, our formal colonial role in this region, the one that caused my family to become a diaspora family -We’ve still got some of our extended family there, but most of us have left and have no right of return and can’t go back.

I was discussing this with a Jewish friend of mine, actually, and I said, ‘I just find it so sad that you can get a passport and go there and be a citizen if you want to, but I, who have a Palestinian mother and grew up… My first word was Arabic and I feel very much a Palestinian, can’t’. So as part of all of this, I would make the case that not just for recognition but also making sure that right of return on ’67 borders, to the other question, I think that’s the accepted route. That’s where we need to go to.

I think the experiment of the Palestinians living in Haifa and Lod and elsewhere, the idea that they are in some way in peace together is just simply not true. I think that the wool has been pulled from people’s eyes over the last few months about the reality for Palestinians in the current State of Israel and the segregation that they feel and the feeling that they are second-class citizens. This cannot continue and the way that the tinder box has been ignited is that this has been going on for such a long time that we have to find a way through.

To talking to Hamas, you talk to everybody, but it needs to be part of a process. I think this is actually where your work, John and others and Jack and everyone else who was involved in achieving the impossible before, we actually have the expertise to be able to lead from the front, but unfortunately, with the current government, I don’t see them wanting to grab that particular role. They shouldn’t just do it. If they’re serious about global Britain, my goodness, what a thing to achieve, to be the ones who start to broker that, but I think that the Palestinians would see it as just reparations for the mess that, frankly, this country caused in the first place.

Lord Alderdice:

Thank you very much indeed. I’m afraid we’re coming towards the end of our time now, but I just want to flag up two or three things that you’ve said and then perhaps make some intervention myself. The first thing is that it seems to me that all four of you have been pretty clear in saying that you believe that the British government should be moving as soon as possible to recognition of the State of Palestine on the ’67 borders. I think all of you were really very clear about that.

I think the second thing that seemed to me to be the case was that all of you were in agreement that, in certain circumstances, whatever those might be, but that in certain circumstances, there should be talks with Hamas. There should be a political engagement there. We could have a long discussion about precisely what that might look like and how it might come about and so on and so on, but there does seem to me there’s an important principle there, which would be very much worth exploring. 

I think, too, the point that you raised Layla about the right of return is also, of course, a critical part of the whole complicated jigsaw, but I’m very glad that you raised that. Of course, we could have picked up on the whole question of the status of Jerusalem as well. That’s another key element to all of this and one which was key in the recent triggering of the violence.

It did seem to me that most of you, if I understood it correctly, were not keen on the idea of BDS, which is something that many people do press, but it didn’t seem to me that most of you were prepared to go there. 

What I take from that, to be honest, is that, having discussed and clarified the international legal aspect, there is another piece of work the Balfour Project could perhaps pick up from the later part of this event and particularly from this panel, and that is to pick up on some of the questions that have been coming through that we haven’t been able to talk about at all, as well as the comments that the four of you have made about the political dimensions of all of this.

I want to thank all four of you for the contributions that you’ve made. Perhaps a few final reflections from me. It does seem to me that the clear and unequivocal outcome of this conference is that Israel’s occupation of the Palestine territories and how it has been conducted is not only illegal under international law but, since their own statute, it probably constitutes a war crime. The problem is not the question of international law but, as Nada Kiswanson said in the previous session, it’s the enforcement of international law, and that’s a problem. It’s not just a problem in Israel/Palestine, but it’s a very real problem.

Michael Lynk pointed out the asymmetric distribution of power with regard to military might and economic capacity and political support and diplomatic clout, but despite all that, Israel has not been able to emerge victorious in its wars against Gaza, the West Bank the Palestinian authority as a whole. It has been able to maintain the occupation of the Palestinian territories, in clear contravention of international law, but it has not been able to win the war. 

The last two weeks have transformed the situation, I think, because the Israeli Defense Force has been unable to defeat Hamas in this most recent battle. Instead, despite the terrible damage and loss of life, from everything I can gather in talking to people in the region, Hamas has emerged with very substantial popular support, not just in Gaza, but in the West Bank and even in Israel proper and amongst people in the Arab street, right across the region.

So I think there is now no possibility of any negotiations that do not include Hamas as a key negotiating partner, and there’s no possibility of Hamas accepting any less that what you have spoken about, the 1967 borders. 

Two further things have been clear to me for some years, and I have said this on a number of occasions. There is little prospect, at the moment, of a two-state solution. Some of you were mentioning what it’s like when you actually go there and see the size of the settlements and the number of the settlements arrangements. How is that going to be reversed? If that’s the case, are we looking at a one-state outcome? Well there cannot be a Jewish and democratic state because it will either be democratic, in which case it will be pluralist, or it will be a Jewish state, in which case it with effectively be an apartheid state.

As I listened to today’s presentations, the rule of law and human rights are clear, but I think in the later part of it, as I just said, we’ve begun to look beyond the rule of law, indeed, beyond the law of rules, and looked instead at the law of relationships, at suffering humanity, at man’s inhumanity to man. Hagit Ofran pointed out that the law is only one of the instruments available. We also have politics, public opinion, and tragically, we have violence, to which people will resort when all else fails, to address a legitimate cause. So I hope that we can build on the insights and inspirations of the last few days, set out against the background of profound despair that many have felt in recent weeks, and be encouraged to re-commit ourselves to addressing this set of intractably disturbed historic relationships  and pursue peace earnestly.

As I looked at the cover of today’s programme, I saw justice portrayed, as she often is, as a woman blindfolded and holding the scales of equality, but problems of relationships, whether individual or community, are not resolved by covering our eyes so that we cannot see the other, much less by looking away to hide from ourselves their suffering humanity, but rather looking into each other’s eyes and engaging with each other’s souls. 

As we leave this excellent conference, let us build on what we’ve heard and learned, inspired to re-commit ourselves to resolving this seemingly intractable conflict and bring about a more human set of relationships not just for Palestinians inside and outside Israel, but Jewish Israelis who will be able to be proud of living in a state of justice and stability and so many others throughout the region which is blighted by this intractable conflict. 

So finally, I want to thank the four of you again. I want to thank the Balfour Project, and I now want to had back to Andrew Whitley, a trustee of the Balfour Trust, who will read out a statement from the Balfour Project and draw our conference closed.

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