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

Letter published in The Times newspaper, 13 September 2018

Oslo and Palestine


How painful now to recall the hope we had in the Oslo Accords. 25 years on, cynicism and resignation  rule. The Israeli occupation since 1967 is so entrenched, so hard to think beyond. We argue for a better way, not subordinating the right to self-determination of one people to the security and territorial expansion of another.

Trump’s “deal of the century” will not propose equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians. We do. Thus we endorse the Balfour Centenary Declaration (www.balfourproject.org), asking the British Government to

  • recognise now the state of Palestine alongside Israel on pre-June 1967 lines
  • uphold international law in deed, including the 4th Geneva Convention Britain drafted and ratified after WW II
  • give practical effect to UN Security Council Resolution 2334, condemning illegal Israeli settlements, and champion the Arab Peace Initiative, offering regional normality to Israel in return for Palestinian freedom.

Britain and France shaped today’s Middle East region. By recognising Palestine now, Britain will advance the long-term peaceful coexistence of both peoples in the Holy Land, strengthen regional stability and bolster the UK’s own national security.


Co signatories

From the United Kingdom

  • Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP – Labour, Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary
  • Rt Hon Jack Straw
  • Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire MP – Chairman, Conservative Middle East Council
  • Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP – President, Conservative Middle East Council
  • Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP – Conservative
  • Rt Hon David Jones MP – Conservative
  • Fabian Hamilton MP – Labour, Shadow Minister for the Middle East and N Africa
  • Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP – Labour
  • Stephen Gethins MP – SNP spokesperson on Foreign Affairs
  • Rt Hon Tom Brake MP – Lib Dem, Patron of the Balfour Project
  • Dr Philippa Whitford MP – SNP, Patron of the Balfour Project
  • Rt Revd Christopher Chessun – Bishop of Southwark, Patron of the Balfour Project
  • Rt Revd Declan Lang – Bishop of Clifton, Patron of the Balfour Project
  • Very Revd Dr Andrew McLellan – Church of Scotland, Patron of the Balfour Project
  • Paul Parker – Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain
  • Baroness Blackstone – Labour
  • Rt Hon Baroness Kennedy QC – Labour
  • Sir Jeremy Greenstock – Ambassador to the United Nations (retired)
  • Sir Peter Westmacott – Ambassador to the United States (retired)
  • Avi Shlaim – Emeritus Prof of International Relations, St Antony’s, Oxford
  • Baroness Morris of Bolton – Conservative, Patron of the Balfour Project
  • Layla Moran MP – Lib Dem
  • Baroness Sheehan – Lib Dem
  • Tommy Sheppard MP – SNP
  • Rt Hon Lord Hylton – Crossbencher
  • Rt Hon Lord Cope of Berkeley – Conservative
  • Rt Hon Lord Campbell of Pittenweem – Lib Dem
  • Richard Burden MP – Labour, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Palestine
  • Grahame Morris MP – Chair, Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East
  • Rt Hon Baroness Northover – Lib Dem spokesperson on Foreign Affairs
  • David Warburton MP – Conservative
  • Seema Malhotra MP – Labour
  • Chi Onwurah MP – Labour
  • Andy Slaughter MP – Labour
  • Rt Hon Marquess of Lothian – Conservative
  • Dr Tania Mathias – Conservative, former MP and United Nations refugee worker
  • Rt Hon Lord Steel of Aikwood – Lib Dem
  • Lord Wood of Anfield – Labour
  • Rt Hon Lord Warner
  • Ellen Dahrendorf
  • Dr Tony Klug – Middle East analyst
  • Revd Iain D Cunningham – Church of Scotland
  • Pat Gaffney – General Secretary, Pax Christi
  • Sir William Patey – Ambassador to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia (retired)
  • Baroness Meacher – Labour
  • Rt Hon Sir Stephen Sedley – Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, Oxford
  • Sir David Latham – Chief Justice of Appeal (retired)
  • Revd Chris Rose – Director, Amos Trust
  • Claudia Beamish Member of Scottish Parliament – Labour
  • Pauline McNeill MSP – Labour
  • Alan Waddams – EU Ambassador to Egypt (retired)
  • Robin Kealy – Ambassador to Tunisia and Consul-General, Jerusalem (retired)
  • Sir Richard Dalton – Ambassador to Iran and Consul-General, Jerusalem (retired)
  • Sir Harold Walker – Ambassador to Iraq (retired)
  • Peter Millett – Ambassador to Libya and to Jordan (retired)
  • Anthony Layden – Ambassador to Libya and to Morocco (retired)
  • Sir Vincent Fean – Consul-General, Jerusalem and Ambassador to Libya (retired)
  • Andrew Whitley – former senior UN official, Middle East and interim CEO, The Elders


From Palestine

  • Dr Ahmad Khalidi – Senior Associate, St Antony’s College, Oxford
  • Afif Safieh – Head of Mission to the UK and US and Ambassador to Russia (retired)
  • Leila Sansour – CEO, Open Bethlehem
  • Raja Shehadeh – author, lawyer
  • Sam Bahour – writer and businessman
  • Xavier Abu Eid – Adviser, PLO Negotiations Affairs Dept
  • Ghassan Khatib – Lecturer, Birzeit University
  • Antoine Mattar – Chairman, Palestine Britain Business Council
  • Heba Zaphiriou-Zarifi – Analytical psychologist


From Israel

  • Ilan Baruch – Ambassador to South Africa (retired)
  • Alon Liel – Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (retired)
  • Prof Amiram Goldblum – Hebrew University in Jerusalem
  • Prof (emeritus) Galia Golan – Hebrew University in Jerusalem
  • Susie Becher – co-managing Editor, Palestine-Israel Journal
  • Prof Menachem Klein – Bar Ilan University
  • Prof (emeritus) Dan Jacobson – Tel Aviv University
  • Prof (emeritus) Daniel Bar-Tal – Tel Aviv University
  • Prof (emeritus) Nora Resh – Hebrew University in Jerusalem
  • Prof (emeritus) Eli Barnavi – Ambassador to France (retired)
  • Hillel Schenker – co-editor, Palestine-Israel Journal
  • Mossi Raz MK – Member of Knesset – Meretz
  • Prof (emeritus) Itzhak Schnell – Tel Aviv University
  • Dr Dmitry Shumsky – Hebrew University in Jerusalem
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