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Scottish Parliament endorses Balfour Project Call to Action Sept 3rd 2019

Claudia Beamish MSP (Labour) introduced a members’ business debate on motion S5M-16637, “Towards an independent Palestinian state: a Scottish proposal” calling for action leading to an independent Palestinian state and acknowledging Britain’s historical responsibilities in what was to become Israel and Palestine. Claudia argued that British engagement is needed now to help secure a better future for both peoples. Scotland could act as the conscience of the UK, working for true equality through policies based on universal values and those international laws which Britain drafted, signed and ratified after World War II. She highlighted the work of the Balfour Project in raising British public awareness of the history of Britain’s involvement in shaping the Middle East.
She commended the six measures in the Balfour Project Call to Action:

  • an end to the closure of Gaza, imprisoning 2 million people
  • freedom of worship for all – Jews, Christians and Muslims – in Jerusalem
  • respect for the rule of law. Israeli settlements are illegal.
  • accountability: consequences for criminal acts, whoever commits them
  • British Government recognition of Palestine now alongside Israel and
  • commitment to defend the rights of both peoples, including the right to free and legitimate movement of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank.

Sandra White (SNP), John Finnie (Green) and Alex Cole-Hamilton (Lib Dem) each spoke in support. Alex Cole-Hamilton recalled the McMahon – Hussein correspondence of 1915, when Britain promised to the Sharif of Mecca support for an Arab state – including Palestine – in return for an Arab uprising against the Turks. The uprising happened… .

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop also clearly  endorsed the six measures, revealing that she wrote to the British Government last year encouraging it to recognise the state of Palestine, and adding “but as we know, it has not yet done so”. In the view of the Scottish Government:
 “Accepting Palestine as a state in its own right alongside Israel should be the starting point of negotiations”.
The Minister commended the work of the Balfour Project “to educate us all about the underlying causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict”.

Selected speeches from the debate can be seen here

Recent articles

We continue to add articles on British and American actions pre 1948. Tim Llewellyn  reviews Legacy of Empire. Earlier reviews include Ian Black review of  Mathew Hughes on the British suppression of the Arab revolt of 1936-39.  Hughes summarises the British army’s pacification as ‘devastatingly effective,’ based on emergency laws that went unchallenged because of the absence of any indigenous legislature (and which were inherited by the state of Israel in 1948). Charles Glass examines Tom Segev’s “One Palestine, Complete”, and “Ploughing Sand”, by Naomi Shepherd; John McHugo reviews the seminal “Palestine: the Reality”, by J.M.N.Jeffries. These are just some of the Book Reviews on the site.

William Mathew has three articles on the recognition of Israel by the United States in 1948 Part l, Part ll and Part lll and he has added a private memo by Evan Wilson secretary to Anglo American Committee of Inquiry in Palestine.  These join two earlier papers by Mathew where he compares the work of two Jewish historians on the long-term effects of the inter-communal violence and harsh response by British forces which rocked Palestine in 1929. Mathew explores their markedly different approaches.

Articles touching on the subject of recognition of Palestine and the two-state solution which are reprinted here: Vincent Fean writing in the Conservative Middle East Council web site on  Israel’s election, Palestine, and Britain’s best response: Equal Rights, and 115 British Parliamentarians writing to the Times .  Tony Klug writes:   Is There a Plausible Alternative to The Two-State Solution?  and Ian Black: Britain needs to recognise Palestine as an independent state :”It’s time to get off the fence and resolve this most toxic of global conflicts.”

But do read some of the older articles such as Anthony Nutting’s Britain in Palestine, a legacy of deceit one of the first papers put on the site but still in the most read.

The aims and objectives of the Balfour Project

The Balfour Project hopes to achieve a much greater public awareness of Britain’s historic and current responsibilities in the Middle East, and in particular its role there in the first half of the twentieth century.

The Balfour Project accordingly invites the government and people of the United Kingdom

  • to learn what the Balfour Declaration and Palestine mean for both Arabs and Jews,
  • to acknowledge that whilst a homeland for the Jewish people has been achieved, the promise to protect the rights of the Palestinian people has not been fulfilled,
  • and to urge effective action to promote justice, security and peace for Israelis and Palestinians.


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Balfour Project (www.balfourproject.org) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)  SC 047090

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)  SC 047090