A response to the Conference debate on the Balfour Declaration

Shalom alechum, alsalam ealaykum, peace be with you.

Peace, Peace in the land between the river & sea is what we should be working for.

And, to put it mildly, the motion we passed at Conference on Sunday does not do that. Indeed, by passing it, it means we probably won’t get another chance to debate the Palestine/Israel conflict again for some time.

I tried to get the motion referred back to the FPC and to ask them to bring back a better, more comprehensive motion next year as the one we passed today is the lowest common denominator that is acceptable (begrudgingly) to two interest groups in the Party, Lib Dem Friends of Palestine and Lib Dem Friends of Israel.

It does nothing to say what we, as a small political party far away from the area, can do to advance the cause of peace between Palestine & Israel and, believe me, there is much we can do.

We could be learning more from groups like “Solutions not Sides”, we could be inviting speakers from One Voice, YaLa Young Leaders, Ta’ayush and similar organisations, we could be listening to those who work every day to break down the barriers (both physical & mental) between the two nations.

The motion also contains factual errors, for example, line 35 refers to “pre-1967 borders” but no such borders existed as they were Armistice Lines that marked the end of conflict in 1949, they were never meant to be the final demarcation between Israel & its Arab neighbours.

What is worse, all amendments to correct errors and improve the motion have been rejected by FCC. No reason has been given for this rejection.

We need policy that acknowledges the right of both Palestine & Israel to exist as sovereign states within secure recognised borders, a policy that recognises the failures of the current political leadership in both nations to advance the peace process, a policy sets out how we can encourage those working on the ground for peace. Sadly, what we now have is a policy that is incorrect in the details, leaves us open to being called Hamas sympathisers on one hand and appeaser of Israel on the other, doesn’t acknowledge our impotence to influence either the Palestinian Authority or the Government of Israel and that will be condemned by extremists on both sides

We need to move on and develop a progressive policy on how we can encourage the many peace makers in both Palestine and Israel. I would like the FPC to come back next year with a well-researched, options motion that gives Conference real choices and provides us with a genuinely different and defendable line on one of the most important issues in international politics today.

Comments on this post will be pre-moderated.

* Leon Duveen is Chair of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East, a new group of Lib Dems working to support those trying to a solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict and to providing information about these peacemakers.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Lorenzo Cherin 21st Sep '17 - 4:20pm

    If the motion needed more , so do we here.

    For what Leon does not say is just how much he does ,in the direction he advocates, and for ,the situation he understands.

    As he is founder of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East, which , as he made clear on its foundation ,on here ,to those ,initially, like me and many, keen on what he had to say, exists to provide precisely the way through the extremes and clashes so long heard, this is a chance to promote that better way.

    Whatever the merits of the motion or the amendment from Leon, which , latter , seemed to make real sense , though I was unavailable to get involved and would have wanted to ,a glance at his concerns reveal a rather uncompromising yet , alas , compromised treatment of him , at or pr conference.

    Unlike so many involved in this debate , those who seek solutions , must realise that the support needed is indeed for those beyond power in governments.

    We as Liberals should realise in this , and on many issues, advocacy for a better way, like charity , begins at home.

    And at conference.

  • Chris Burden 21st Sep '17 - 4:38pm

    Amen, Leon

  • Arthur Trussel 21st Sep '17 - 5:50pm

    Hi Leon,
    You say:

    “Peace, Peace in the land between the river & sea is what we should be working for.”

    I have too often heard : “the land from the river to the sea is Israel”.
    Many have been listening to : “We could be learning more from groups like “Solutions not Sides”, for decades.
    I get a very-very strong impression that the Israelis have no intention of giving the Palestinians anything at all; only to continue their demoralising, degrading treatment of them.
    Nothing ever changes and they continue to flout international law.
    I have lived in S/Africa and seen many many films and videos of events in Israel/Palestine- just to say; I would never entertain going to that area, and seeing events makes me question whether the Israelis deserve any land at all.
    I won’t go on, as I could say much more. Just to say I voted against your motion as there will always be someone saying reasons for doing nothing.
    Sorry 🙂

  • As a humanitarian, the human rights situation in the palestinian territories is my major concern. It is all very well for Israel to go on about its right to exist and being under threat. It needs to calm down, seek out and allow Palestine to become an independent state.

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