Bishop Declan Lang will join a host of eminent speakers discussing the Balfour Declaration tomorrow, Tuesday 31 October in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster.
The 1917 Balfour Declaration was a first step towards the creation of a sanctuary for a persecuted people, the Jews. It was also the start of a process which has rendered Palestinians stateless, living under occupation in their own land, in refugee camps, or scattered throughout the world.
The Declaration pledged Britain's support for a 'national home' in Palestine for the Jewish people on the understanding that the rights of 'existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine' would not be prejudiced. The failure to uphold this second clause, for which Britain bears much responsibility, has caused conflict between Palestinians and Israelis ever since.
This was just one of Britain's contradictory promises during the First World War. After the War we secured a mandate from the League of Nations which included a 'sacred trust' to prepare the people of Palestine for independence. But in the end Britain walked away.
The ensuing suffering and destruction in Israel, Palestine and neighbouring countries have been allowed to continue far too long. The British Government recognises the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination. Israelis have achieved this. Now is the time to help Palestinians achieve this, in cooperation with both peoples and the rest of the international community.
It will mean committing ourselves to work for peace with justice in the region on the basis of equal rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. It entails upholding international law, including the Geneva Conventions, without fear or favour. This is a huge, long-term challenge. Governments will only take it on if their citizens do so first. If Britain gives a lead, others will follow. This Centenary event is an opportunity to reflect on Britain's legacy, consider our individual and collective responses, and make ourselves heard.
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford University;
Rt Hon Tom Brake MP;
Layla Moran MP;
Dr Philippa Whitford MP;
Sir Vincent Fean, former UK Consul-General, Jerusalem.
Rabbi Danny Rich, CEO, Liberal Judaism in the UK;
Dr Imad Karam, film-maker
Patrons: Rt Hon Tom Brake MP
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun
Baroness Morris of Bolton
Dr Philippa Whitford MP
Rt Revd Graham James
Rt Revd Declan Lang
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Buy tickets through Eventbrite. Go to http://bit.ly/2xaCV5M
(£12; £8 for over 60s; £5 for students, unemployed). Tickets cannot be bought at Central Hall.
Promote the event among your friends and networks
Help raise £20,000 to cover the gap between income from ticket sales and total costs www.balfourproject.org/donate/
Sign up for further information at: www.balfourproject.org
The conference takes place from 6.30pm-8.30pm, Tuesday 31 October 2017 in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH - off Parliament Square.
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