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The British PM’s invite to Netanyahu for the Balfour Declaration centenary disrespects Palestinian sensitivities.

Feb. 9, 2017, midnight

Today the British Parliament will debate a bill on illegal Israeli settlements demanding "Israel immediately to halt the planning and construction of residential settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories which is both contrary to international law and undermines the prospects for the contiguity and viability of the state of Palestine.”

This debate is very timely as it comes hot on the heels of the recent, contentious vote in the Knesset to legalize illegal Israeli settlement outposts, built on private Palestinian land which has caused an international outcry.

The debate also comes just days after Benjamin Netanyahu’s official visit to the UK and meeting with Prime Minister, Theresa May. Netanyahu used the visit to derail the peace process with his talk of the nuclear threat from Iran. He also wanted to emphasise trade relations between Israel and a post-Brexit Britain, particularly in the context of undermining the rising strength of the BDS movement in the UK.

As much as we appreciate the Prime Minister’s insistence at the meeting that illegal Israeli settlements are an impediment to peace and that the only way forward is the two-state solution, we are dismayed by the invitation extended to Benjamin Netanyahu to attend the ‘marking’ of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in November 2017.

Netanyahu and his government are engaged in a policy of unabashed land-grabbing in the occupied State of Palestine in an outright breach of international law and UN resolutions, including recently passed UNSC resolution 2334. The debate today, among Parliamentarians, demonstrates that part of the British political class takes these breaches seriously but not, it seems, the present British government. By celebrating the infamous Balfour Declaration and inviting Netanyahu, who openly violates international law, to Britain for the centenary event constitutes a slap in the face to the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people. Instead, at this juncture in history, the British government should be redressing the terrible harm done to the Palestinian people by the Balfour Declaration by recognising an independent, sovereign Palestinian State.

The Palestinian Mission has requested an appointment with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss this issue as a matter of urgency but unfortunately has not as yet had any response.

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