The British Government has now replied to the six recommendations in the Balfour Project statement “Israel-Palestine: equal rights for a lasting peace” which concluded our 27 October conference on Jerusalem. We are indebted to our patron, Rt Revd John Pritchard, for asking his MP to forward the statement to the Foreign Secretary and seek a response. Mr Raab’s letter is below, and merits careful reading.The Foreign Secretary highlights the consistency of U.K. policy since 1967, including rejection of Israel’s claim to sovereignty over East Jerusalem. He pledges our country’s strong support of international law. Consistency in upholding international law requires actions in response to systematic breaches of that law, including de facto annexation of occupied Palestinian land through illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The Balfour Project believes words are not enough.
In response to the Balfour Project’s call on our Government now to recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel on 1967 lines, the Foreign Secretary reaffirms his commitment to two states, then repeats the terms used ten years ago by Mr Hague: “The British Government will recognise a Palestinian state at a time when it best serves the objective of peace”.
We believe that now is that time.
Mr Raab adds: “Recognition in itself cannot end the occupation”.
The Balfour Project says, no one claims that it can do so. But British recognition of Palestine will reflect the reality of two peoples – Palestinian and Israeli – each with an equal right to national self-determination. It is more than time to treat the two peoples as equals.