The Palestinian Mission in the UK issued today the following statement on Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian's response to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond's lecture at the Conservative Middle East Council's Policy Meeting earlier this week:
Ambassador Hassassian at the Annual Policy Meeting of the Conservative Middle East Council.
The Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian attended the Annual Policy Lecture of the Conservative Middle East Council (CMEC) on Wednesday evening, 10th February. The event enjoyed a packed audience of ministers, MPs, Peers and the Arab diplomatic corps in London.
The Foreign Secretary, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP delivered the 2016 Annual Policy Lecture and spoke about the current security situation in the Middle East and the lack of stability. He emphasised that all efforts are now being exerted to find a solution to the conflict in Syria. Towards the end of his speech, he touched on the critical situation in Palestine, assigning the stalemate in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians to the intransigence of ‘elites on both sides’ leading to suffering among ordinary people.
H.E. Manuel Hassassian was the first to take the floor after the Foreign Secretary and re-joined that although he sincerely agreed with what The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP had said about Syria, he had to disagree, in absolute terms, with him in relation to Israel and Palestine.
He strongly questioned the fact that the Foreign Secretary had framed the issue by putting the Israelis and the Palestinians on an equal footing. This was an unacceptable assertion as they are not equal at all. Israel is the occupier and the Palestinians are occupied and the impasse in the peace process is directly due to Israeli policies. The Ambassador highlighted, in particular, the fact that Israel is building more and more illegal settlements on expropriated territory which amounts to a creeping annexation of Palestinian land. This, he emphasised, is the chief obstacle to any meaningful dialogue at the current time.
The Foreign Secretary thanked Ambassador Hassassian for his valuable contribution and said he was of the same view when it came to illegal Israeli settlement building which he agreed was definitely an impediment to peace.