Senior Palestinian Authority officials blamed a group of British parliamentarians for the entire conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, The Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.
The incident occurred at a Ramallah lunch meeting between a delegation from Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a group that brings British lawmakers from the U.K.’s Conservative Party to visit Israel, and PA officials including negotiator Nabil Sha’ath, ambassador to the Vatican Issa Kassissieh, and PLO executive committee member Hanna Amira.
Jonathan Howell MP, who led to CFI delegation, said tensions began rising during a discussion of Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city. Members of CFI tried to argue that building more cities like Rawabi would lead to a “more contented population.” However, the Palestinians maintained that constructing such modern towns would “normalize” the occupation.
According to Howell, the “real fireworks” began after members of his group suggested that Hamas would win an election in the West Bank if it were held now, which put the PA delegation “at unease.” In response, the Palestinian officials attempted “to blame us, as being ‘the British,’ for the entire situation in Israel and Palestinian territories as a result of having the Mandate, years and years before I was even born,” said Howell. “It’s such a naive view of things.”
Howell, who believes dialogue is necessary to achieve peace, added, “It’s difficult to see that these people could be a basis for negotiation. I think there would have to be some agreement about how so many things in the world have genuinely changed before we can start talking.”
Earlier in the day, the CFI delegation attended a formal announcement by Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock on the British government’s new guidelines against anti-Israel boycotts by public British institutions. During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hancock said that the new directive “makes clear that discriminating against members of the WTO [World Trade Organization], including Israel, is wrong, and it is illegal, and it must stop.” A video of the exchange is embedded below.
The British government revealed earlier this week that it would formally announce the new policy when Hancock visited Israel.
Sha’ath wrote an op-ed in The Telegraph in 2012 claiming that the U.K. must atone for its sins and, “more than any other state, should stand behind the Palestinian endeavour towards the fulfilment of their national rights and aspirations, through supporting its application for enhancement of status at the UN.”
Earlier this month Sha’ath asked whether Palestinian terrorists should “hijack your planes and destroy your airports again” to make Europe support the Palestinian cause.
[Photo: AFP / YouTube ]