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Ambassador Hassassian meets Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn

Jan. 20, 2017, midnight

Ambassador Manuel Hassassian met with the Leader of the Opposition, The Rt. Hon Jeremy Corbyn at Parliament last Tuesday in a positive and productive meeting. They discussed the latest political developments including, most notably, the Paris Peace Conference, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn reiterated Labour’s position that as soon as Labour comes to power it will immediately recognize a Palestinian State without any preconditions. This is consistent with the Labour position held under the previous leadership of Ed Miliband. This was warmly welcomed by the Ambassador. At the same time, HE Hassassian expressed his deep dismay with the current British Government, especially with its latest position on the Paris Peace Conference.

Despite playing a positive role in helping draft the UN Security Council Resolution 2334, last month, there seems to have been a U-turn, demonstrated by the fact that the Prime Minster sent such a low profile delegation to attend the Paris Peace Conference, refusing to sign the concluding statement and blocking the European Council of Foreign Affairs from adopting it.

The UK should be playing a balanced role and encourage parties back to the negotiating table, the Ambassador said. He hoped and believed that the Labour Party would welcome the concluding statement from the Paris Peace Conference and, in the wake of UNSC Resolution 2334, which has created new momentum, take a more proactive positon on illegal Israeli settlements. Labour and the international community should now endeavour to follow-up and adopt concrete measures to halt illegal Israeli settlements and all trade with them.

Ambassador Hassassian and the Labour Leader discussed, in this context, the significance of 2017, which marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, 50 years of occupation and 10 years of the siege of Gaza. The Ambassador asked the Labour Party to take a strong position on the proposed plans of Government to mark the centenary without putting right the ongoing dispossession and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people.

The meeting also focused on the election of Donald Trump and the critical dangers of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Ambassador requested that the Labour Party have a clear position against the relocation in line with international law.

Mr Corbyn asked for a briefing on the current situation in Gaza, especially with regards to water and electricity supply infrastructure. After ten years of siege and sustaining two brutal attacks by Israel, Gaza is still waiting rehabilitation and urgent reconstruction work which still has not taken place.

Finally, after updating the Labour Leader on the political reconciliation process taking place between political parties in the West Bank and Gaza, Ambassador Hassassian extended an invitation to Jeremy Corbyn to visit Palestine soon. The Leader of the Opposition said it was definitely on the Agenda for the spring this year.

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