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UK Select Committee on Europe and the Middle East
Below we provide some comments and quotes from John Sawers, the Political Director at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, given in testimony on the first of February 2007 before the select committee on Europe as part of enquiries into the EU and the Middle East Peace Process. The comments are ours. You can also read the full transcript (proof version).
Mr Sawers: "The international community is not going to be able to cooperate and work with a Palestinian government that is not committed to renouncing violence, recognising Israel and upholding previous commitments, including the road map commitments."
It is good to see this position being held firm.
Mr Sawers: "On the borders there will have to be some compensation between the two sides if land which was Palestinian before 1967 is incorporated into the state of Israel"
As an expert it's quite disappointing that Mr Sawers would make a blunder like that. As he's well aware the 1967 border is about a border between Israel and Jordan. Before 1967 the land was Occupied by Jordan. At no point was there Palestinian land. Mr Sawer is advsised to check any library, or indeed his own department's records on this fact.
On a historic note, the Zionists bought land from private land holders during the Otterman Empire's rule. They bought more during the British Mandate. Public lands became part of Israel when passed to them by the UN as the Mandate expired. This is how the 1948 land was aquired by Israel. Jordan (along with other Arab countries) invaded Israel just as it was created and sought to wipe it off the map (something the Iran President also has high on his "top ten things to do when I'm bored" list), after the war Jordan ended up occupying Jerusalem, the Gaza strip and other areas of the former British Mandate. Jews were nto allowed to visit their holy sites. The Jordanians did not create a Palestinian state, and no one complained. When they tried again to destroy Israel in 1967, Israel rather than them captured territory. The land which last (in an unoccupied state) belonged to the British (though they also conquered it in war - so perhaps it was occupied) is yet to be formally allocated and have definitive borders drawn across it. More on this at Wikipedia.
Mr Sawers: "What we want is for Hamas to recognise the reality of the state of Israel and to remove from its lexicon its commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel, and that strikes me as a reasonable thing to ask of a negotiating partner."
You must love the British sense of balance. Imagine a sheep and a wolf negotiating how they will live as good neighbours. The sheep asks not to be eaten, the British reply is that this is a reasonable thing to ask fo a partner, now... what does the wolf want? The only problem with this analogy is that Israel not ready to disarm itself to being in the position of that sheep. The British must realise this. Agreeing to Israel's right to exist is not the concession made to Israel in negotiation... it is the pre-negotiation starting point. The international community at the moment has this right.
Lord Anderson of Swansea: "We learned, for example, from the IMF in 2003 that $900 million passed into the 25 private coffers of the Palestinian leadership... have the lessons been learned in relation to the total misuse of EU taxpayers’ money over the earlier period?"
Mr Sawers: "...I think there is a very strong feeling within the EU that funds in the past have either been abused and wasted or have occasionally have been
used, for example, to fund projects which have later been destroyed by the Israelis."
One would have thought that $900 million stole by Palestinian officials would have been the signifiance point, or the money used for terrorist infrastructure, but no it all comes back to those Israel. Note the lack of mention of what was destroyed or why.
Mr Sawers: "as we saw last summer in the conflict in the Lebanon, an Iranian armed group in the Arab world can set back the prospects for peace and for stability very severely."
Mr Sawers: "When you visit Israel or, indeed, the Arab world, one
of the greatest concerns – possibly in Israel the greatest concern – is not Palestinian, Syria or the Arab world generally, it is Iran. The activities of Iran in supporting extremist groups in Arab countries – in the Lebanon, in Iraq, as we have seen – has raised the level of concern about Iranian activities and certainly has raised the impact of the nuclear file and the implications for the Arab world and the Middle East as a whole should Iran succeed in acquiring nuclear weapons technology or, worse still, nuclear weapons themselves. The rhetoric of President Ahmandinejad is one thing: we cannot ignore it; is it very damaging; and it certainly would be wrong to assume that it is does not carry some meaning. I think it has raised again the concern that Israel’s very existence could be brought into question by enemies in the region – a prospect which really has not been there for much of the last 35 years but was very much there in the early years of Israel’s existence."
I wonder what effect the Iranian threat is having on British Foreign policy? It's good that it is recognise, but where is the seperate report into this threat?
Mr Sawers: "What we face now is an Iran which is posing an increasing threat to the security of the region and which is causing particular security concerns for the State of Israel because of its support for terrorist groups and because of its aspirations, as we see them, to develop nuclear weapons."
Iran is suporting terrorism - in black and white. So what is being done about it?
Mr Sawers: "Obviously it would be much better if we had an Iranian leadership which was committed to a two-State solution, which was committed to countering terrorist groups and was not causing instability in the region, but that is not what we have got, and we have to deal with the Iran which presents itself."
I think we call that British Diplomacy.
Mean time the committee stopped recieving written submissions on the 5th of March. Apparently many Palestinian NGOs put in submissions, and supports of Israel all heard about the deadline after it closed. At least that's what we've heard. We'll see what the final report looks like before making any judgement.