Ambassador Hassassian meets Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats.Jan. 19, 2017, midnight
Last Wednesday, Ambassador Manuel Hassassian met Liberal Democrat Leader, The Rt. Hon. Tim Farron at Parliament. The Ambassador thanked Mr Farron for receiving him and for his party’s historical good relations with the Palestinian people. He also thanked him for his party’s consistent position on Palestine supporting a Palestinian State and the two-state solution. The Ambassador urged the Liberal Democrat Party to formally recognize the Palestinian State and to use its good offices to urge the current Government to do the same.
The two men discussed the increasing support for the Palestinian cause among ordinary people in the UK with public opinion shifting from 30% to 70% in favour. Israel’s brutal policies and Netanyahu’s uncompromising approach have encouraged more people to see the truth of the situation and give the Palestinian people their backing. Yet there is a wide gap between popular support and the present Government’s position, the Ambassador said. Commending the role played by the UK recently in helping to draft UN Security Council Resolution 2334, HE Hassassian said that there was, however, no concrete action on the ground. He was particularly worried about the fact there was no clear position on the proposed relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and on trade with illegal Israeli settlements.
HE Manuel Hassassian told the Liberal Democrat Leader that he had been bewildered by the current Government’s lack of support for the Paris Peace Conference which aimed, if nothing else, to revive the Middle East peace process and ensure the survival of the two-state solution. Theresa May’s stance was not encouraging in its unequivocal support of Israel. There is a great need for the current Government to create a balanced approach. Moreover, he would like the UK to take a more positive role in working for a just solution rather than just paying lip service to the peace process, particularly as Trump’s policies on the Middle East are unpredictable. The Ambassador said that what was particularly worrying, was the proposed relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem which would wreak havoc in the region. In this context, the two men discussed the dire situation in occupied East Jerusalem for its Palestinian residents.
The Liberal Democrat Leader was worried about Israel’s clamp down on its own civil society organisations, particularly those which are voices for peace and justice. He also asked to be briefed about the election process in Palestine.
HE Excellency Hassassian urged Mr Farron to give his support in this significant anniversary year which marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration which culminated in the destruction of Palestine and the dispossession of its people.
Finally, Ambassador Hassassian warmly welcomed the visit of the Liberal Democrat Leader to Palestine, which will take place in May of this year.