On Friday Rishi Sunak welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu, and stressed the importance of upholding shared “democratic values, including in the proposed judicial reforms in Israel”. Mr Netanyahu went home and sacked his Defence Minister for opposing those reforms, which demolish the checks and balances protecting Israelis from the worst excesses of their ultra-right wing Government.
Palestinians have no such protection. Instead, he should have sacked his Finance Minister, condemned by our Government last week for denying the very existence of the Palestinian people, their right to self-determination, their history and culture. That UK condemnation came at the UN in New York. No whisper of it at No 10.
Instead, the two PMs welcomed the 2030 roadmap for U.K.-Israel relations, signed by their Foreign Ministers. It marks the aggressive progress of our Government’s selective amnesia concerning Israel/Palestine. No mention of the two-state outcome which remains bipartisan UK policy, which Mr Netanyahu rejects and is doing his utmost to make impossible. He is no partner for a just peace with the Palestinians. Nothing on the Palestinian right to self-determination, because Mr Netanyahu does not believe in it.
But the UK does believe in that Palestinian right, and in a peaceful end to the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza of 1967. Our Government should say what it believes, and act accordingly – or face justified charges of hypocrisy.
Letter in The Times, 28 March 2023
Andrew Whitley, Chair of the Balfour Project Charity
Sir Vincent Fean, Vice Chair, Balfour Project; HM Consul-General, Jerusalem (2010-14)