CFI’s Honorary President Lord Polak CBE is among a cross-party of peers who this week called on the UK Government to urgently renew efforts to facilitate direct peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a letter written to Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly, the peers expressed “deep concern” that the UK is on the brink of losing its position as a trusted, impartial actor in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The peers also included Baroness Deech, Lord Leigh of Hurley, Lord Palmer of Childs Hill and Lord Turnberg.
The letter responding to a letter sent by the Chair of the House of Lords International Relations Committee Baroness Anelay of St Johns. Pointing out the UK’s long-time role as a “trusted partner of both Israel and the Palestinian leadership” the peers suggest the letter from the Baroness fails to recognise that “despite the stated willingness to negotiate on the part of the Israeli government”, the Palestinian Authority had rejected President Trump’s so-called Peace Plan proposal “out of hand”.
The letter continued: “The US administration’s proposal is not a fait accompli agreement and there remains an opportunity for both parties to negotiate on the basis of the plan”.
Outlining a succession of rejections by the Palestinians of peace proposals going back to Camp David in 1999, the peers wrote: “Can you advise on what steps Her Majesty’s government has taken to encourage the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel?”
In relation to the “discussions around the extension of Israeli sovereignty into parts of the West Bank” the peers note that “Israel has made no formal announcement of its intentions nor communicated what such an extension would include” and therefore any intervention by the UK would be “premature at this time”.
In response to suggestions that Israel could face economic sanctions in response to annexations, the peers assert: “Any penalising, unilateral UK policy change would represent a reckless reversal of long-held neutrality on the peace process, as evidenced by the UK’s continued reluctance to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of either state or to recognise Palestinian sovereignty outside a negotiated final status agreement. Such a dramatic and one-sided policy change would be an irreversible blow to the UK’s traditional status as a constructive actor in the peace process”.