Britain’s relations with Palestine was the subject of a conference last week at the Museum of London organised by the Palestinian Community Foundation (PCF), founded and run by Rajab and Razan Shamallakh.
7Dnews interviewed the keynote speaker, Professor Ilan Pappe of Exeter University, who explained that the problem of what he called the ‘Palestinian question’ had to be reframed.
It was not a problem of nationalities but of the relationship between a colonialist settler population and the indigenous people, he said. Pappe, himself an Israeli and a descendant of settler refugees from Germany in the 1930s, explained that, having given government support to the settlement movement with the 1917 Balfour Declaration, approving a Jewish homeland in Palestine, British governments had largely supported the state of Israel by abstaining from criticism either through Europe or the UN. That being said, the recent statement by the Israeli government to extend settlement into the occupied West Bank, although tacitly approved by the US, has been condemned by the British government.
So does Britain still have a role and is there a solution? Natasha Self of the PCF and Shabbir Lakha of the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ both believe that Britain should back off and not get involved. Professor Lappe, a believer in a one state solution, believes there will be a solution but it will take time and expressed his hope that sacrifices on the way will not be as great as some fear.