Monday, December 07, 2020

UK minister: peace requires refugee restitution on both sides

The UK minister for the Middle East, James Cleverly MP, has stated the need for restitution to refugees on both sides of the Middle East conflict. (With thanks: Jonathan)

James Cleverly MP: 'Jews have experienced unacceptable suffering'

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Cleverly said“ A peaceful future for the Middle East depends on a peace agreement that offers fair restitution for both sides ….”

 Mr Cleverly was replying to two questions from Stephen Crabb MP.  Mr Crabb asked the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether it remained the UK’s position that any settlement resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should include recognition of the plight of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa as well as Palestinian refugees.

 He also asked the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on recognition and restitution for Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.

Both questions received the same answer and reiterated the words used by the previous secretary of state responsible for Middle East affairs, Dr Andrew Murrison MP. Dr Murrison was speaking at the first discussion of its kind on Jewish refugees, held in June 2019 at Westminster.

Mr Cleverly said: "We are clear that the status of refugees must be agreed as part of any final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The United Kingdom is focused on working with international and regional partners to harness the changing Israeli-Arab relations to encourage a return to dialogue. The history of Jewish migration and displacement in the region is highly complex and cannot be ignored. We acknowledge that the Jewish community has experienced unacceptable suffering. We continue to support the aspiration for a Jewish homeland in the modern state of Israel, just as we support the objective of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. A peaceful future for the Middle East depends on a peace agreement that offers fair restitution for both sides, and a willingness on the part of all countries in the region to respect the rights of minorities and build inclusive societies which enshrine and uphold those rights."

However, Mr Cleverly stopped short of endorsing the position of the US Congress and the Canadian Parliament, both of whom have demanded recognition for Jewish refugees.

Stephen Crabbe posed his questions in the run-up to 30 November, the official day to commemorate the exodus of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran. Harif, the UK Association of Jews from the MENA, wrote to each of 630 MPs requesting that the Jewish refugees be recognised.

The Israel-Britain Alliance, together with 'We Believe' in Israel',  is asking MPs to sign a petition as follows:  

"After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, 850,000 Jews living for generations in Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen were forced to leave their homes and their property to flee persecution. 

"While the plight of the original 711,000 Palestinian refugees has been given special status by the international community, Jewish refugees have been ignored and forgotten.    

"We, the undersigned, call upon the UK government to ensure that the public understand the full history of the Middle East and designate 30 November as a national day of awareness where we remember and commemorate the plight of Jewish refugees."

Anyone can add their signature to the petition for the forgotten Jewish refugees, which can be found here.



idit said...

I'm sorry but there is no equality between the two situations. The Jews didn't start a war, did not attack their neighbours, did not call for Genocide or ethnic cleansing and act upon it. The Arabs did that and refuse to accept the consequences of their actions. Why should they be compensated and for what? they are the ones who started the war. And who is going to compensate them?

bataween said...

You are right in principle, Idit, but Israel has lost so much ground on the refugee issue that the most that can be done at the moment is to ask for equal consideration. The compensation will probably come from the international community.