I celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's birthday at the home of the British Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Tim Phillips. It was reported in Greer Fay Cashman's society column in the Jerusalem Post and was accompanied by a protest from the Palestinian Authority's Saeb Erekat. It even made the Daily Telegraph in England.
It also, I have learned, made Hansard's, the diary of the House of Commons.
Here's an exchange from June 24th:
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): ... I am interested, however, to know what he means by “location of settlements”. Article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention is extremely clear that colonisation of occupied territory is illegal. The settlements in all of the occupied territory are the biggest physical obstacle to a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Now that a ceasefire is in place, surely the Palestinians can expect us to pursue the matter under international law. What kind of signal does it send when settlers’ leaders are then invited by Her Majesty’s ambassador to Israel to a party celebrating the Queen’s birthday?
Dr. Kim Howells Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Not very helpful signals, and I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman that this is the time to push the Israelis hard on the question of illegal settlements. Clearly, they are illegal and are not helping the Annapolis process in the least. Indeed, they are an obstacle to progress.
So I wrote to him thus:
I found it disturbing that you, Sir, would so readily agree with MP Blunt that my invitation, along with two others, to the Queens birthday celebration at Ambassador Phillips' official residence as well as on the issue of the presumed "illegality" of my home village was not helpful and that there is a need for a "push".
I would suggest to you that my home village of Shiloh is not an "obstacle" nor illegal and that Amb. Phillips' invitation was entirely in order. This seems to appear to you, surely, a complex issue but it need not be coloured by personal biases based on political ideologies obtained some 40 years ago.
To be concise: the Jewish people's homeland for over 1500 years was lost as a political entity after being conquered by the Romans, a second time, in 135 CE (your AD). It then became known as "Palestine". It was conquered by Arabs only in 638 CE. In 1917, HMG recognized the right of Jewish return to its homeland. 1919, at the Versailles Peace Conference, in 1920 at the San Remo Conference and in 1922, at the Supreme Council of the League of Nations, that right was eternalized in international law as the "reconstitution of the Jewish homeland". The territory of that right, which included "close settlement", extended to both sides of the Jordan River. The following year, Great Britain backtracked and authored a territorial partition, to be followed by yet another partition plan in 1937 and consummating in the 1947 UN Partition Resolution. All these comprised a reneging on that primary right. No Arab entity, genuine or fictitious such as the "Palestinian people", ever agreed to accept any Jewish presence anywhere in the area. Thus, in the post-1967 era, Jews have simply, Mr. Minister, returned home.
Of course, my full explanation of such would be too long for a letter but I am sure that your staff could prepare for you a brief from these sites:
As regards the matter of my physical presence at the celebration, I am sure that you, Sir, would find it offensive to be rejected and nullified simply for being what you are rather than doing anything criminal or illegal and that is my reaction. On a more pragmatic level, how could HMG ever learn anything if the officials simply ignore a situation. I have been engaged in discussions with FO diplomats for three decades, have visited the FO at King Charles Street and at my home in Shiloh have received delegations of MPs and others. I find your attitude quite shortsighted.
If you wish to continue this discussion, even if for your position as Minister of State, if not your own personal edification, I am, Sir, at your service.