Thank you so much to those who came to our Spring Conference 2017. It was great to see over 100 attendees gathering to consider How Do We Advance the Palestine Issue in the Age of Trump & May? What makes this annual event special is the contributions made by our members and supporters.
Ardi Imseis, our keynote speaker, asked: “How does a weaker party successfully negotiate the return of stolen property with the more powerful one responsible for its theft? Based on the historical record, it is not certain whether any new form of multilateral negotiations can level the playing field. What is clear, is that as Israel’s regime of apartheid and colonialism in the OPT enters its fiftieth year, it is increasingly apparent that a much more principled approach to ending it forthwith—that is, decoupling its immediate end from bilateral negotiations which have enabled it to consolidate, not relinquish, control—is required.”
Robert Cohen focused directly on the centenary – in a year full of big anniversaries for Israel/Palestine – of the Balfour Declaration, first made by the UK Government 100 years ago. Robert successfully debunked the claim that support amongst Jewish people at the time for the Balfour Declaration was by any means universal, and set the context for us to challenge a celebration of Balfour initiated by the UK Government. More on Robert’s thesis can be read here>
Ben Jamal, director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, continued this theme looking back at Balfour and forward at how Palestinians can assert their rights today. He quoted Marwan Barghouti, currently on hunger strike within an Israeli prison: “Freedom and dignity are universal rights that are inherent in humanity, to be enjoyed by every nation and all human beings. Palestinians will not be an exception. Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace”.
Jeff Halper, co-founder of ICAHD, brought from Jerusalem an urgent demand to look to the future and plan for what future Palestinians and Israelis should share. He said after 50 years of occupation, it is time to “move on from reporting, researching, protesting and resisting to actual conflict resolution – achieving a just and sustainable political settlement in Palestine/Israel.”
This was an important moment to mark a chapter in ICAHD UK’s journey. The conference gave their heartfelt thanks to Linda for leading ICAHD UK as director for so many years. As she passed the baton to Sara Apps, this was a moment to celebrate Linda’s contribution so far. Linda will now focus on spreading the message through writing and speaking at events.
Thank you to all those who attended.