Highlights of my speech in the Foreign Affairs and Defence debate on 19th November 2009

Lord Hylton

“I urge Her Majesty’s Government and those responsible for European Union policy to approach the Middle East with a proper and necessary sense of humility.  We should recognise that our actions – and indeed, our inaction – have led to the wasted yeas of a so-called peace process, with no real peace and at least three brutal and devastating wars, beginning in 2003.

Our new humility should include a sympathetic understanding of both Israel and Palestine.  Israelis remember centuries of persecution, largely in European states, culminating in the Nazi attempt at genocide.

On the other side, we have to understand the pent-up anger and frustration of Palestinians over their sufferings.  The Naqba, or disaster, uprooted Palestinians, who now number millions of refugees and exiles scattered through the Middle East and beyond.

Both sides long, however, for real peace, bringing with it mutual security, recognition and legitimacy.

The religious leaders in Israel and Palestine have a distinct contribution to make towards real peace.

Unilateral measures, taken by all sides and parties, could also be helpful if they are carefully co-ordinated.  I have in mind particularly the release of captives and detainees, and the building of a transport link to connect Gaza and the West Bank.

Our Policy, as I suggested earlier, should be humble but realistic, understanding of basic needs and interests, and patiently working to include all parties in conflict resolution rather than in unsatisfying conflict management.  Time, as has been said early today, is not on anyone’s side.

The Minister for Defence, who replied for the Government, was not able to find time to say anything about the Middle East.


7 comments for “Highlights of my speech in the Foreign Affairs and Defence debate on 19th November 2009

  1. Carl Holbrough
    24/11/2009 at 5:07 pm

    “Both sides long, however, for real peace, bringing with it mutual security, recognition and legitimacy”.

    The only problem with that statement is it leaves out the reality of they want it without the other existing. This is true of both Israel and Palestine,neither is blameless or faultless.

    This feudal war that spans decades, perhaps longer,will, I feel, never end. It may have along the way some times of relative peace but ultimately this will be broken by the need to avenge family blood and take back lands from conquerers.

    I do empathise with both sides to a degree and could see myself in their positions. Unfortunately I cannot see a clear way forward. There are people on both sides that can and do live in harmony, others that are bigotted and discrimatory.

    Religious war is the hardest to overcome, we in Britain still have some aspects of Roman Catholic Versus Protestant that erupts into real violence at times. I do not follow one faith, I have my own, so like many who declare themselves athiest I state Religion to blame. However I know that even without Religion, community will fight community in whatever divide they choose.

    Israel as the bigger brother of the two should know better than to be disproportionate with it`s responses to criminal acts. It`s easy to understand the response though given the history of Jews. The Palestinians need a proper state but they must be seen to punish those who commit offences against Israel. The Palestinians will never forget the Naqba because for them it still exists now.

    There is no solution in my mind, we in this country cannot stop Celtic hating Rangers, we cannot even have an England V Scotland football match or stop some type of Irish Republican army from existing. There is no answer to someone who states the blood of my Father is on someones hands who is going unpunished.

    I have asked myself many times if the Nazi`s had won the war and were still in Britain, would I be fighting against them ? The only answer is yes as it would be for my children and theirs.

    Unless you, as the power of all powers, are going to show your wrath and state clearly and unequivocally that this is Israel`s and that is Palestine`s and are prepared to punish transgressors yourself – there is no end, no peace, no unity.

    • Gareth Howell
      26/11/2009 at 8:04 pm

      Looking at the history of recent years of Israel, the loss of the Gaza Strip as a possession of Egypt (as I understand it) was the worst thing that could possibly have happened.

    • Lord Hylton
      02/12/2009 at 11:27 am

      Thanks for your comments

      • Gareth Howell
        03/12/2009 at 6:31 pm

        Lord Hylton

        Using a broader brush stroke on nation states
        I wonder whether Turkey will become more marginalised from the EU with the development of a European Defence Policy, as opposed to a NATO one?

        I don’t know how many states are now NATO Members, but not EU ones, which now has its own defense arrangements.

        Somebody the other day suggested that US “might begin to look in entirely different direction!”

        If Turkey were radicalised as it seemed, at their last general elections, and not EU members, then the geo-political map for the region may begin to look very different.

        It was the Ottomans who enjoyed the Holy Land until 1920 or so, was it not, and probably ruled it quite well.

        EU troop/forces could hardly get involved in Israel politics could it?

    • Lord Hylton
      10/12/2009 at 11:07 am

      Thanks for your comment

  2. Senex
    27/11/2009 at 11:45 am

    Lord Hylton: “Israelis remember centuries of persecution, largely in European states, culminating in the Nazi attempt at genocide.” Quite so, but herein lays a conundrum.

    In 1948 Israel’s founding fathers had a clean slate upon which to create the constitution of a nation. Given that its incoming citizens had endured much state sponsored persecution it has always intrigued me why they choose not to give any priority to separating church from state especially in a holy land.

    The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Palestinian territories are disputed whilst the Palestinian Authority has declared that they are occupied. The problem for the Palestinians is that even if they conceded their lands to Israel by right of conquest to become an enlarged Israel, Palestinians would not be protected from religious persecution and would most certainly endure it.

    The issue of settlements in the disputed or occupied territories must be resolved sooner than later as the Israeli constitution as it stands is based upon de facto freedom and the occupiers of these settlements may have a legal case for declaring their removal unconstitutional by way of long standing custom and practice.

    • Lord Hylton
      10/12/2009 at 11:06 am

      Thanks for your comment. There are deeply rooted issues of national identity, often intertwined with religious feelings and motives in both Israel and Palestine. Since Israel is the stronger party, please help to persuade its Government to comply with international and Road-Map obligations.

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