What price the two-state solution? with Sir Vincent Fean

16th April 2024

Sir Vincent Fean is a retired member of the British Diplomatic Service (DS) 1975-2014. His last post was as Consul-General, Jerusalem (2010-14). Before Jerusalem, he was Ambassador to Libya, and previously High Commissioner to Malta. 

Vincent advocates equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians, and British Government recognition of the state of Palestine alongside Israel on pre-June 1967 lines. He is a Trustee of the Balfour Project.

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Sir Vincent Fean:

Today I’ll be speaking for myself rather than for the Balfour Project, because that gives me a bit more latitude. What’s needed today?

There needs to be a permanent ceasefire now in Gaza and Israel, the release of the hostages criminally held by Hamas, and a vast influx of humanitarian aid into Gaza led by UNRWA, the UN Relief Works Agency, to combat starvation. Famine and starvation are real in Gaza.

In the opinion of the Balfour Project, the United Kingdom should stop its arms transfers to Israel, whose government is conducting a war in Gaza indiscriminately and disproportionately, to use a legal term. In my opinion, Israel is flouting the International Court of Justice interim measures imposed on the 26th of January and reiterated by the ICJ thereafter.

I’d like to preface my remarks about two states by saying that it’s not for me, a product of post-imperial United Kingdom, to tell anyone in the region how to live their lives in some given political framework. I have no right to do that, least of all with regard to the Palestinians, whom my country, my government, has undermined and undercut for more than a century. So a degree of humility is needed.

Nor should I be telling Israelis what to do or how to vote.

But what I can do, what we can do, is tell our British Government what we think it should do about this conflict of unequals. The UK should uphold international humanitarian law. We can ask our elected representatives to seek equality – equal rights – as a principle in foreign policy.

My question today is whether out of this tragedy – and Gaza, Israel, the West Bank are in a tragic situation – can come some hope of peaceful coexistence between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, at a time when our political leaders repeat the words two-state solution, adding “irreversible path towards” and dangle the proposition of recognition of the State of Palestine alongside Israel on pre-June 67 lines.

I’ll spend more time on UK policy towards Israel than towards Palestine because Israel has the power. Israel is the occupying power in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank: what I call Palestine.

There are no saints, no heroes in this tragedy, other than perhaps the innocent civilians on both sides. And what Hamas did on 7 October was appalling and wrong.

I’ll start with a bit of history to highlight our country’s relevance and responsibilities, then try to describe why now, after the two-state solution has been parked for the last ten years, is it back on the road or at least talked about. Are there realistic alternatives other than the status quo ante? And what would it take to make it real?

I’ll touch on recognition of Palestine, which the Balfour Project charity advocates, consequences for law breaking by whoever breaks the law, and Israeli impunity –  it seems to be above the law. Will that persist? Who might do the heavy lifting required? And is it worth that effort over what’s likely to be a sustained long period? I think it is worth it.

Let’s start with the history. The Balfour Project looks back at what we British did and forward at what we can do for the best. The history is of British contradictory promises encapsulated in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, our misconduct of the League of Nations Mandate after Allenby took Jerusalem and our army occupied Palestine. As my fellow trustee Peter Shambrook has written, Britain carried out a policy of deceit, having promised the land at least twice to different people. I have a quote from the British Zionist historian, the late Sir Martin Gilbert:

“The centrepiece of British Mandare policy was to prevent the emergence of representative institutions for as long as there was an Arab majority”.

That’s just about the only policy on which our Government was consistent between 1917 and 1948. Other than that, we flipped and flopped. Then, in 1948, we cut and ran and gave the problem to the United Nations.

Moving on to 1967, five months after the Six Day War, Lord Caradon and colleagues from the British Diplomatic Service drafted UN Security Council Resolution 242, which condemned the acquisition of territory by force, but made no reference to the Palestinian people.

More broadly, Britain got into the habit of deference to the US. We waited for the US.  We still have that tendency. Today, the US and we are being accused of complicity in Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

Today, Mr Sunak and Presidents Biden and Macron are talking about two states after a ten-year pause. US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013-14, made the last real effort to address the two-state solution, and he failed. Today, David Cameron is saying unusual things, for example that the Israeli policy of the last thirty years has failed. By that, he meant security for the people of Israel, and he implied that Benjamin Netanyahu embodies that failed policy. The promise that the Israeli government, the Israeli army, can protect Israelis and they don’t really need to bother about the Palestinians. That’s been proved wrong in response to the horrors of the Gaza war.

The West – including us – sees a need to offer hope to Palestinians of a better future, not under occupation – a better life than sumoud or armed resistance or peaceful resistance or migration – and genuine safety for Israelis. How does that come about?

Through mutual security, not the domination by one people of another.  

We have discovered – maybe we already knew – that that just doesn’t work.  I accept that we’re a long way from the end of the occupation and none of this is easy. But that doesn’t stop us from thinking about an end to the occupation and doesn’t stop the Balfour Project advocating an end to that occupation, with our Government playing a positive role in the work to end the occupation. What we don’t want to see is perpetuation of the occupation by another name.

What does ending the occupation mean? It means Palestinian self-determination, with all that that entails, consistent with international law. The Palestinian people have that right to self-determination and nobody can take it away. Ending the occupation would mean Palestinian control of the Palestinian national register of births, marriages and deaths currently controlled by the occupying power. It would mean Palestinians policing Palestinians and Palestinian judges judging Palestinians as against Israelis doing so. Palestinian control of Customs and Excise, borders, Palestinian water, passports, air and sea access, access between Gaza and the West Bank, all on the basis of mutual security, i.e. equal security with international guarantees to safeguard both sides.

Are there alternatives to two states? Yes, there is the status quo ante, where we were on 6 October last year. Some call it a one-state reality of inequality. That was a terrible place for Palestinians and not a safe place for Israelis. I fear Mr Netanyahu wants to go back to that, or worse.

There is the one-state solution: secular, equal. It has logic. But is it attainable? It isn’t where the international community is now.

Are two states realistic? They are not a triumph of hope over experience, because we have never experienced them. Two states have never been tried. In my opinion, Israel has not wanted the two states. Successive Israeli governments have done much to prevent them. If there were to be two states, what would need to be addressed?

The final or permanent status issues were essentially ducked and pushed back by the Oslo Accords. They are: the status of Jerusalem, defining borders, what to do about illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank and the 750,000 settlers therein? Security, refugees and relations with neighbours.

These are familiar issues much visited in the past. Solving them, addressing them would require concessions – mainly, but not only, by the state doing the occupying.

Today, the logic of Cameron, Biden, Macron etc is to revisit them. I hope they mean it, on the basis of international humanitarian law.

What’s changed to bring this subject back to the table? I believe Israel has gone too far, to put it mildly. Its friends are uncomfortable, as they should be. Well before 7 October, Israel was in breach of international law through the Gaza blockade from 2007 (collective punishment of 2.3 million people), through the illegal settlement project in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, and its conduct of the occupation.

Today we have Israeli government ministers – Smotrich and Ben Gvir – inciting settler violence. And since 7 October, in my opinion, Israel has resorted to starvation and famine as a weapon of war. It has locked down the West Bank, where the incitement to violent settlers is rife.

So what about international law? The International Court of Justice is busy determining whether Israel is guilty of genocide and separately advising whether the 1967 occupation is illegal. The word genocide will hang like an albatross around Israel’s neck for years to come as the ICJ deliberates.

As to the advisory opinion on the occupation, and that opinion is expected later this year, I’d like to quote from one of my favourite barristers, Philippe Sands KC, who addressed the ICJ about the occupation as follows: “The purpose and effect of the occupation is the denial of the right of self-determination and the prevention of the solution called for by the Security Council, the UN General Assembly and the vast majority of states of our world, premised on the existence of the two-state solution. The occupation is illegal and must be brought to an immediate, unconditional and total end. The right of self-determination requires that UN member states -that includes us – should bring Israel’s occupation to an immediate end. No aid, no assistance, no complicity, no contribution to forcible actions. No money, no arms, no trade, no nothing. All UN member states are obliged by law to end Israel’s presence on the territory of Palestine. That is what international law requires. No more and no less”.

If only international law had leverage, had teeth. It has teeth when states choose to give it teeth.

I don’t know what the International Court of Justice will advise. The US and our own Foreign Office legal adviser argued that the International Court should not advise anything. They lost that bet with the 2004 ICJ ruling on the separation barrier or Wall. I hope they lose again, and that the judgement will be to find the occupation of 1967 illegal in 2024.

What would it take to make Philippe Sands’ vision anything like a reality? Quite a lot. International cohesion: agreement on this irreversible outcome of two states. Consequences for law-breaking, whoever breaks the law. Upholding international law, with a role for the International Criminal Court. Palestinian democratic renewal, absorbing all tendencies into something bigger and other and – I would argue – nonviolent. A change of mindset in Israel. A big ask.

The ICJ and the International Criminal Court are certainly relevant, of great interest, but ultimately politics and associated diplomacy will be decisive.

I’d like to start with a change of mindset here in the UK. On that issue, British diplomacy at the political level is perking up a bit. After all the navel gazing since Brexit in 2016, David Cameron is in a fag end government, but he’s working hard and wants a better legacy than that of 2016.

There is urgency. Trump is on the horizon and he does not represent the 7th Cavalry. Keir Starmer is excessively risk averse on this subject.

Meanwhile, UK standing with the global south is low and getting lower. Our Government tied itself to the Israeli war machine six months ago and has yet to free itself. That said, the UK still has convening power; has its place with France in the permanent membership of the UN Security Council, what they call the P5… So there are things we should do.

What we ought not to do is pontificate about upholding international law when we don’t practise what we preach. We need a plan which recognises Palestinian agency alongside Israel in any solution for Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. A plan which recognises that Israelis have rights, but that those rights stop at the Green Line where Palestinian rights take over. I mean by that the pre-June 1967 line.

We need to save UNRWA, the UN Relief Works Agency, not kick it. I very much hope that our Government will renew funding for UNRWA this month or early next and will advocate for UNRWA, which is uniquely well placed to deliver what’s needed in Gaza now.

Recognition of Palestine as a state on those pre-June ’67 lines, albeit under occupation today, should be part of that plan. Our history carries with it a responsibility to give a lead here, going further than nice words. So far we’ve had nice words.

Other partners are minded to recognise the State of Palestine very soon on those pre-June 67 lines: Spain, Norway, Ireland, Malta, Belgium, Slovenia, maybe Australia and New Zealand, maybe France.

It all comes back to self-determination for two peoples. One people has achieved it. We can acknowledge the rights of the other people, equal people, by recognising the state. It means parity of esteem for both peoples. That’s not enough on its own, but it’s a start. A much-needed change of mindset here. Maybe late, but better late than never.

Back to the concept of a plan. The elements required are well-known. What’s needed is the will to make the sustained effort and to say that there are consequences for maintaining inequality. There is a word too little used by governments: accountability.

There are two peoples here whose security needs to be safeguarded, not just one. To achieve equality and equal treatment by us of both peoples, that sustained effort will need to be undertaken with or instead of the US plus the rest of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, the EU, Israel and the PLO or whatever leadership Palestinians choose. I repeat, it’s for the Palestinians to choose their own leadership. Engagement is needed from the Arab near neighbours – Egypt, Jordan –  and from the Gulf states. With the UK playing a full part, not leading from the middle or expecting others to take the strain while we shout from the sidelines.

Is it worth the effort? I think so. You can try to ignore or forget Israel/Palestine, but it won’t let you. This conflict has a malign capacity to divide here at home like no other. We’ve seen that in the manifestations of Antisemitism and Islamophobia, both repugnant. Better to address it than to be complicit in prolonging inequality, violence and discrimination.

Bad things are happening. Bad for Israel. Worse – much worse – for the Palestinians. Bad for the rule of law in our world and therefore bad for the UK.

And there is a moral aspect to this political issue, to this crisis. We need to say what’s right, convince others, and do it – not to have one rule for our friends and another for our foes. We can’t expect to be taken seriously if that’s our bargain – if that’s what we are offering. I believe we are better than that, or can be. We certainly need to be, if we are to contribute to ending this cycle of futile violence and repression.

I’ll end by mentioning our conference on 6 June entitled Peace with Justice – how to get there. We will have good speakers. We’re working closely with the History Dept  of King’s College, London. The venue is Bush House, in the Aldwych, by the Strand.  The time is 2:00 PM to about 6:30 on the 6th of June. We’d like you to be there – either face to face or on Zoom, as today.


Diana Safieh:

First, from a friend of the Balfour Project, Samia Khoury, based in Jerusalem. Do you think the British will ever atone for the way they left Palestine and would recognise a Palestinian state?


I doubt if Britain will apologise for the conduct of the Mandate and for that accurate assessment by Sir Martin Gilbert, that the only consistent thing we did was withhold representative government from the Palestinian Arabs while they were the majority. As a Government, I think we can and should and will recognise Palestine. Lord Cameron talks about it. Whether he is empowered to do it, particularly by Number 10, is an open question. We don’t know. He’s talked about recognition, not at the beginning of a process, but not at the end either. Today there is no process –  and I fear that as long as Prime Minister Netanyahu is in office, there will not be a process.

The Labour Party speaks of working with others, joining others to recognise the State of Palestine. As I said, six or seven countries are poised to do that. The Prime Minister of Spain has said by July there will be recognition by Spain and those who wish to go with Spain. So there is movement on recognition, which I think is important partly for that parity of esteem between two peoples. It’s also true that if you believe the Israeli story of what Hamas wants, if Hamas wants to eliminate Israel, which it knows it cannot do, then it’s wrong to say that recognition is in any sense a reward for terrorism. It is not. What recognition does is re-acknowledge the existence of the State of Israel at the same time as acknowledging the existence of the State of Palestine: two states. Nobody is going to unrecognise Israel in order to recognise Palestine. The international community is not there.

So back to Samia’s question, I think it will happen. I think it’s late, but I think it will happen and because of our history and our responsibilities when we do it, not if but when we do it, it will have an impact beyond our medium- sized nature as a power today.


We have a comment:  You make no reference to Hamas and how they are stealing humanitarian aid and then selling it to Gazans. And also to their use of women and children as human shields.


I’m not here to defend Hamas. Hamas is not the Palestinian people. Hamas is not the people of Gaza. Hamas, in my personal opinion, is not the future.

Our next webinar is in late April or the very beginning of May, and it will be conducted by Mr. Andrea De Domenico. He’s the head of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem. He is a UN official; the UN officials tell the truth. That’s why the Balfour Project has asked Andrea to speak about access to Gaza, past and present.

I think and hope that there is movement to increase the scale of humanitarian aid going into Gaza. God knows there needs to be. We will hear from him and he will tell his truth, which will be the truth.


Is any solution viable giving, given Israel’s seeming unwillingness to engage seriously with either a two- or one-state option?


I said that the mindset in Israel is important and difficult. There needs to be trust today for obvious reasons. There is trauma on both sides and mistrust and fear on both sides. The long-term interests of Israel lie in peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis.

In my opinion, the long term well-being of Israel depends on ending the occupation. That’s a minority opinion in Israel today, partly because the message of Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues that this issue can be managed, can be administered, can be policed, can be controlled by the army of Israel, caught hold. In my time as Consul-General, there were a couple of Israeli elections and the Palestinian question was not raised. The usual subjects of pensions and education and social services and all that were the issues. The issue that was not talked about was the Palestinians. That can’t be the same again and will not be the same again. But moving from war to acceptance is difficult. It will take time, take effort, will take more than persuasion. I think and hope it can be done. Because the alternative is chronic violence.


Why don’t the media make the connection between the occupation of the West Bank by Israel and Gaza since 1967 and the actions of Hamas on 7 October and beyond?


The international media almost literally go to the sound of gunfire and they are superficial. I’m not writing everybody off.

People like Jeremy Bowen, Lyse Doucet and others in the BBC know the story because they’ve covered it so often and they know the background. They know the depth of the story. The UN Secretary General was right when he said that 7 October did not happen in a vacuum. He was strongly criticised by the Israeli government for that. As I said earlier, UN officials tend to speak the truth.

Is there a way forward? I think it has to be seeking to uphold international law. One of the reasons, in my opinion, why the Kerry initiative back in 2013-14 failed was because there were no established parameters, no established guidelines, no common basis for discussion, and in one sense, Prime Minister Netanyahu played President Obama and played him out over the eight years of his tenure. That shouldn’t happen again. That isn’t a way forward. A way forward, which addresses those tricky, difficult, permanent status issues in good faith on both sides is needed.

But it’s also wrong to leave this issue to both sides because of the inequality of power between Israel and Palestine. The international community has to play a part. This is not a domestic Israeli issue, nor is it a bilateral dispute.It is a challenge, a problem belonging to the UN Security Council, and it needs to be dealt with at that level: internationally, with international guarantees for the mutual security that I speak of in order to persuade, convince both sides that there is a way past where we are now.


These next two questions are on populations, the population of Palestinians in Israel as well as the settlers in the West Bank.  What would happen to Palestinian citizens of Israel, for example, Nazareth. Could or would they have dual nationality? Second question – it seems to me one highly problematic issue is demographics. That is one of the stumbling blocks constantly. I understand that one in seven of the population in Israel is Palestinian. It’s about 20%, I think. There are 750,000 Israelis who have settled in the West Bank. Are we going to advocate mass relocation? If not, how do we proceed?


Personally, I work on the assumption that what came to be the state of Israel in 1948 is likely to remain the state of Israel in terms of borders. So that’s the pre-June 67 borders.

There are about 9 million Israelis, of whom 20% are Palestinian Arabs. The people who didn’t leave in 1948 are now 20% of the population. With regard to the settlers, that number is 750,000, in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, with ambitions on the part of Smotrich and Ben Gvir and possibly Netanyahu to increase the number to over 1,000,000. I mentioned the borders because it’s possible to imagine land swaps of about 4% – “equivalent size and value” is the term of art. That would mean that between 1/2 and 2/3 of the settlers would go into Israel because their settlements happen to be close to the Green Line and there could be land transfers to Palestine to compensate for the land lost.

Bearing in mind that the 1948 Israel has 78% of the Mandate territory that Britain used to run and the Palestinian state that I advocate would be 22% of that Mandate territory. That outcome was accepted by Arafat and Abbas in 1988 and 1993 and it hasn’t changed. What has changed is the illegal settlement activity to take land from that 22%.

So on the question of what happens to the settlers, I don’t have a ready answer. Land swaps is a possibility, but the words “land swaps” have never crossed Netanyahu’s lips. Can one imagine a Palestinian state with jurisdiction over the settlements? It’s hard to imagine. But can one? In which case, the settlers would have a choice either to be under Palestinian control or to go to Israel.

That’s one of the tricky permanent status issues. They’re all tricky. That’s one of the tricky issues that needs to be addressed. What is mildly heartening is that those issues have resurfaced. They are real. They have resurfaced after having been left neglected for 10 years, largely because the international community did not wish to disturb what looked like a sleeping dog, but was not.


Does the sovereign Palestinian state require the state of Palestine to have armed forces? And how realistic is it to expect a strong single Palestinian Authority to emerge, given the stated and immutable objectives of Hamas as well as the division within the country?


Does the State of Palestine need to have armed forces? That’s for Palestinians to say. Frankly, the current situation, which is unacceptable, is Palestinian policing security forces in Area A of the West Bank, but no security control over the rest of the West Bank, the villages and countryside, and close security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and Israel. On the issue of unification, it’s clearly the objective of the European Union, the UK, rather arrogantly to say Hamas should not govern Gaza. Ultimately, it’s for Palestinians to say who should govern them. I said earlier, and I mean it, that Hamas is not the Palestinians. Hamas is not 2.3 million Gazans, and I’d just like to repeat my own opening remark that it isn’t actually for the rest of us to tell Palestinians who should lead them. We don’t like it when foreigners tell us who should lead us. Why should we do that to them? I also said earlier that I’m not interested in telling Israelis how to vote or who to vote for. I have my opinions, but they have the right to vote for whom they choose. Palestinians need the same right.

It was a great disappointment to me that President Abbas called off elections in 2021. It is not realistic to expect elections this year, given the fact that 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza are displaced. But we need elections. Palestinians need elections. I am confident that Palestinian unity can come about. What is needed from the international community is evidence that if it does come about and when it does come about, it will find a home and it will find the sovereignty that Palestinians deserve.


Is a one-state solution more realistic, or at least the lesser evil? What about a federation or a confederation.


I’m not here and the Balfour Project is not here to advocate one outcome. We as a charity don’t do that. We want to explore. We do firmly believe that recognition equals parity of esteem, and that’s a benefit whatever the eventual outcome. So we’re not advocating one thing over another. We don’t want to presume to take the place of Palestinians and Israelis who ultimately will decide. But they need help. The international community can help, hasn’t really over the last ten years, if not more, and on occasion has done active harm. Now, how to do better than that? The current mood in the international community, rightly or wrongly, is to revert to the idea of two states, which was the idea back in the 90s, maybe in the 80s. That’s where the international community has voiced its opinion. If there were to be one state, a secular state with equal rights, that would require a radical change of mindset by Israelis, by the Jewish population of Israel, which is not visible today. The opinion of Palestinians, I will not speak for. I do not wish to speak for. Is it possible? Is a federation possible? Anything is possible given the political will, the leadership and the trust. Today, trust is lacking, trauma is prevalent and the idea of confederation seems to me to be a possible consequence of Palestinian self-determination. But, if I could put it this way, not first time round. It doesn’t feel to me something that will happen in in the coming year, two years, three years. But just to repeat, I’m not interested in removing any option from the table. That’s not my task. It’s not the task of our charity.

What is needed is a hardheaded, realistic approach which ends discrimination and inequality, gives both peoples opportunity to coexist, to get to know each other better. Over the years that opportunity has been reduced and to find ways of coexistence that are mutually acceptable, knowing that the status quo ante of the 6th of October was not.


We’ve had a lot of comments about how people appreciate the Balfour Project ethos of allowing the Palestinians to determine what they would like for their own future and that we then support that, rather than post-colonial white saviour attitude of what’s best for the indigenous populations and so forth.

What is the impact of Iran/Israel on Israel/Palestine?


Hard to know. Much depends on Israel’s response to the Iranian response to the Israeli attack on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus. I don’t see how anybody can seriously object to defence, by which I mean the action of the Israeli, American, British, Jordanian forces in actually preventing harm. I support that action,personally. Again, at the moment the focus needs to be on Gaza, on stopping famine. That is the priority. Anything that distracts world attention and pressure from that aim is bad. The focus of our efforts should be on a ceasefire, release of those hostages, massive ramping up of aid from a low base, a deplorably low base, and efforts thereafter to find ways of no repetition of all that. Iran is not decisive, so I think one should try and compartmentalise the issue. The issue of how Iran relates to the world is one thing. Alleviating human suffering in Gaza is the priority.


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What can we do? How can we increase the motivation of our Government to act? What can we do as an individuals to put pressure on them? What can we do to make an impact in the region, however small?


The stock answer, and it needs to be better than this, but the stock answer is write to your MP. I know a lot of people do that already, and as the Balfour Project we do on occasion engage in that advocacy work.

Two of our Peace Advocacy Fellows, Alex and Lily, are working on a letter to MPs about recognition, which I strongly commend. It’s not come out yet, but it will do. That’s one way forward.

Quiet lobbying in MPs’ surgeries on the need for recognition on the need for even-handedness, on the need for parity of esteem between the two peoples.

There is an issue on UNRWA that I’ll just come back to. Our Government suspended future financing of UNRWA on the basis of the allegations from Israel (for which I personally have not seen evidence) relating to UNRWA staff. 12 UNRWA staff allegedly being involved on 7 October and they were sacked. I do believe that UNRWA plays an essential role. I also believe that the Netanyahu government wishes to eliminate UNRWA. That would be bad for Palestinians, for Jordan, for Syria, for Lebanon, where Palestinian refugees depend heavily on UNRWA. And I believe it will be bad for Israel. It would increase instability, increase insecurity, increase, probably, radicalisation. So for lots of reasons, nobody should want that. But sadly, some people do, so it’s worth appealing to our own Government, and to a certain extent to Labour in opposition. But it’s a Government decision, this month or next, to restore funding to UNRWA, to express confidence in UNRWA.  And I would add, to tell Israel that it must allow Commissioner General Lazzarini into Gaza to do his job. Currently he’s banned from Gaza, which is not actually Israel’s job. Those things should be said, and they should be said to Andrew Mitchell, the Minister responsible for aid in the Foreign Office, and to David Cameron and those above.

What else? Keeping hope alive matters. What it means is not accepting the status quo, not believing that because it’s been bad it’s always going to be bad, and I’ll end on that word of accountability.

No states and no entity should be above the law. If it is, we’re in trouble and one could say we are in trouble. So finding ways to hold Hamas to account for its crimes and holding Israel to account for its crimes is important for all of us. It’s important for how we live. It’s important for how we can expect to be treated by others, either at a national level or even at a personal level. So that issue of accountability is real. And nobody can argue that inequality is OK. It isn’t. So there’s no shame, in fact, there’s honour in advocating equality.

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