Statement on Sweden’s recognition of Palestine and current situation in Alquds, Jerusalem

31/10/2014

Statement on Sweden’s recognition of Palestine and current situation n Alquds, Jerusalem

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes Sweden’s decision to recognise the state of Palestine at a time when the Palestinian people face unprecedented aggression and violence from Israel. Recent events in Jerusalem which have included attacks on civilians, closure of the Alaqsa mosque, new illegal settlement announcements and home demolitions have raised tensions to unprecedented levels.

IMG_7158.JPG

Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom

While Sweden took a peaceful measure to help reduce the inequality between Israel and Palestine, Israel has embarked on a campaign to terrorize the Palestinian population in Jerusalem and to restrict their ability to access Alharam Alsharif and to pray at Alaqsa mosque. It closed the haram Alsharif to Muslims for the first time since 1967. It has also repeatedly allowed extremist settlers and Israel Government Ministers access to the holy shrine against the will of the Palestinians, raising tensions and worryingly turning this into a religious conflict.

Israeli occupation forces violence against Palestinians has led to the current dangerous situation which also resulted in an attack on an extremist and the assassination in cold blood of the suspect.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign calls on the UK Government to recognise the state of Palestine, following the historic Parliamentary vote which overwhelmingly called on the Government to do this.

It further demands that the Government condemns Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem.

IMG_7157.PNG

It must demand that the plan to discuss exerting Israeli sovereignty on Alharam Alsharif. in the Knesset is withdrawn and no change to the arrangements agreed at the onset of the occupation i 1967 is considered. Muslims should have unimpeded access to the holy shrine and repeated incursions by extremist settlers must stop.

The Government has repeatedly called Israeli settlements illegal but apart from condemning and expressing concern about settlement expansion, it has not moved to ban the import of settlement products. This is the time to do this, thus sending a clear message to Israel that the UK will act and not just condemn.

Professor Kamel Hawwash
Vice-Chair, Palestine Solidarity Campaign

The Express Debate: Should Palestine be recognized as a state?

I took part in a debate on whether Palestine should be recognized as a state with Pro Israel Broadcaster Charlie Wolf. This came shortly after the UK Parliament voted to support recognition and the Swedish Government’s decision to recognize Palestine.

 

IMG_7127.PNG
The Express chose to run a long article that presented only the view that it should not. This came from Pro Israel, former Spanish PM Aznar. This is unhelpful to the readers.  I hope that I was able to counter the argument well.

Read the article and watch the debate here

To watch the debate only click here

Alan Duncan MP tackles illegal Israeli settlements and their supporters

IMG_0595.PNG

Following the UK Parliament overwhelming vote to recognise Palestine as a state, Sir Alan Duncan MP makes an astonishing speech to the Royal United Services Institute entitled: ‘Middle East Peace- The Principles behind the Process’.

IMG_0597.PNG

He says defenders of illegal settlements should be viewed as extremists.

The speech can be viewed here

Here is an example of the ‘settlers’, better described as armed robbers, attacking an elderly Palestinian man for ploughing his field under the protection of the IDF.

The reaction of the pro Israel groups in the UK was perhaps predictable. Here in the Independent’s report.

Sir Alan Duncan’s ‘apartheid’ attack on Israel angers Jewish groups

You really do wonder when groups representing the Jewish community in the UK will see that supporting Israel unconditionally is misguided and counterproductive to peace efforts. I guess that Alan Duncan’s speech would put those of them who support illegal settlements in the ‘extremist’ camp and he is right. That worries them but does not seem to help them wake up and realise supporting illegality is not in the Jewish Community’s interest.

Comment: Britain’s moral responsibility to Palestine

This is a piece I wrote on 20 September 2011 for http://www.politics.co.uk

Interesting to look back, particularly following the vote to recognise Palestine in the UK Parliament.

Comment: Britain’s moral responsibility to Palestine

Tuesday, 20 September 2011 4:45 PM

This week the Palestinians will make representations for statehood to the UN. Britain should support them.

By Professor Kamel Hawwash

This week the eyes of Palestinians, Israelis and literally millions of people will be focused on the United Nations security council as it deliberates the case for the admission of Palestine as a full member of this international club of nations. Will the American representative Susan Rice raise her hand to veto the request and what will Britain’s stance be?

When Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and president of the Palestinian Authority completes his address to the UN general assembly, expected to take place on September 23rd, he will be calling for the admission of Palestine as a full member state of the United Nations.

He will make the case that when the United Nations resolution 181 was passed in 1947, it was for the establishment of two states in historic Palestine, one Jewish and one Arab and with the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area under international protection. Israel has existed since 1948 but the Palestinians are still without a state with four million living under military occupation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and more than four million others living as refugees in countries as far apart as Lebanon and Brazil.

The Palestinians have been negotiating with Israel since the 1991 Madrid conference and despite many attempts to reach a peace deal the Palestinians have lost hope that this is possible without a major change to the dynamics of the political situation.

The last few years have seen Israel move more to the right politically in successive elections, the latest of which brought Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu to power in a coalition that includes the right wing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman from Yisrael Beiteinu. As Israel lurches to the right its desire for peace reduces by the day and its pursuit of policies of creating facts on the ground including the construction of more settlements increases.

The election of Barack Obama as US president in 2008 brought new hope as he undertook to bring the two sides together and looked forward to welcoming Palestine as a full member of the United Nations in September 2011. However, since his speech negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been limited to a two week period after which the Palestinians walked away as Netanyahu refused to extend a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.

Netanyahu has imposed five conditions for peace: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and Israel to keep settlement blocks; no right of return for Palestinian refugees; a Palestinian state must be demilitarized and that the treaty must be an end to the conflict. The Palestinians have refused to return to negotiations unless there is a freeze on settlement construction and that a clear framework is established for these.

During this time the Palestinians have continued to build the institutions judged necessary for a state under the premiership of Salam Fayyad. There is recognition by the International Community that the Palestinians have made great strides in this area and that Palestine now meets the institutional requirements for a state.

With this achievement, the recognition of Palestine as a state by over 120 countries and with negotiations completely stalled, the Palestinians have turned to the UN for recognition of their state on the 1967 borders.

The reaction of Israel to this move is perhaps unsurprising and the USA’s promise to veto this move is also unsurprising as it has an inglorious track record of vetoing resolutions in the Security Council on Israel’s behalf. But why does Britain hesitate in supporting this move?

Successive British governments have been clear in their support for a two state solution. They see the settlements as illegal and East Jerusalem as occupied territory. In his speech to the Palestinians on Friday the 16th of September, Abbas confirmed that he will be asking for admission of Palestine as a full member state of the United Nations on the 1967 borders. He further confirmed that the remaining issues will need to be negotiated with Israel before a peace treaty can be signed. Therefore the two positions seem compatible.

At a meeting before Abbas’s speech, foreign office minister Alistair Burt confirmed to a group of representatives of Arab organizations that Britain had not taken a position on this matter and would not do so until it had seen the actual text. He also confirmed that Britain was working to convince the two parties to return to negotiations but that each had to move from its current position. There is clearly now no prospect of a return to negotiations before the vote later this week.

The Middle East is going through the Arab Spring and the Arab Street will be watching the events at the UN with bated breath. Israel is becoming more isolated by the day and needs critical friends to save it from its current government’s actions which have created major rifts with Turkey and Egypt.

The Israeli lobby in the United States will not accept anything but a veto at the UN and Obama is now looking at the next elections and would not want to anger it. In vetoing the admission of Palestine to the UN the United States’ reputation and standing in the Middle East will be further eroded.

It was interesting to see Jack Straw, former Labour foreign secretary come out in support of the UN move by the Palestinians. The current British government should listen to his advice and vote for the admission of Palestine as a full member state of the UN. By doing this Britain will enhance its reputation and influence in the Middle East and at the same time continue to work to bring the parties together for the necessary negotiations.

The Palestinian people have waited for over 63 years to achieve their rights and Britain with its historic role during the British mandate in Palestine has a moral responsibility to help them achieve them. It will not do this by sitting on the fence and abstaining.

Kamel Hawwash is a British Palestinian academic with the University of Birmingham and vice-chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Much support from former British Diplomats for recognition of Palestine

On the 13th of October, UK MPs will debate and vote on a motion to recognise Palestine. The outcome is non binding on the Government, but a strong yes vote would not only put pressure for UK recognition, but can be helpful to the Government to move on this if it so chooses. After all, this is democracy, isn’t it? Or is it the power of lobbies that determines a sovereign state’s decision to recognise another state.

A number of ex British diplomats have made the case for recognition before the end if the negotiations. Here are the links.

Opinion piece in the Guardian: Former British Consul General to Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean: The time is right for Britain to recognise the Palestinian state

IMG_6964.JPG

Letter in the Independent by a number of former diplomats: MPs’ historic chance to help Middle East peace

With Sweden leading the way with its new Government promising to recognise Palestine, the home of the Balfour Declaration, the UK Parliament, can send a strong signal to the Government from all sides of the house to recognise Palestine. A defeat for the motion or the addition if the wrecking amendment would put Britain on the slow lane of truly supporting an end to the illegal military occupation of Palestine.