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Friday, 13 June 2014

Palestinian Ambassador on peace

A great peice here ( by the Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Professor Manuel Hassassian, and a UK-based Israeli academic, Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor, in which they write, re:- a two-state deal: "Israel shall recognise the State of Palestine. Palestine shall recognise the Jewish State of Israel."

It is immensely significant for a Palestinian diplomat to write words that imply Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state that will co-exist with a future Palestinian state. Immensely significant, and very welcome, as is his willingness to co-write it with an Israeli author for publication by the pro-Israeli British group BICOM.

Also refreshing is BICOM's referring to him here as "His Excellency Ambassador Manuel Hassassian", as, although the UK has upgraded the Palestinians' London delegation to full mission status, it is not (yet) an embassy and he is not (yet) an ambassador - and yet common sense surely suggests that there is nothing to be lost (and much to be gained) by extending to this de facto ambassador the same courtesy that one would extend to a full ambassador. Isn't that what you do when you are trying to make peace with someone? Such courtesy speaks well of BICOM and its current leadership.

I don't care, by the way, what good or awful things Professor Hassassian has or has not said or done in the past. I care about what he is doing now, and that's this article, which - however much I disagree with it on some of the specifics - is an attempt to float a proposal for peace. To take just one passage:

"Israel and Palestine will institute a shared curriculum on good neighbourhood, understanding cultures and religions, respect for others and not harming others. This education programme will commence at the kindergarten and continue at primary and high schools. In every age group vital concepts for understanding the other will be studied. This programme is critical for establishing peaceful relationships and trust between the two parties."

That is exactly the sort of approach that I (and I hope other British Liberal Democrats) would passionately endorse, although I write here in a personal capacity. Joint Palestinian-Israeli articles such as this have got to be preferable to the politics of shouting, which too often dominates British discussion of these matters.

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