Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Foreign Office, Peter Mortimer, Camp Shatila and Five Leaves


I’ve blogged previously about our work with the Palestinian veterans who fought with us in World War II, and questions of history and justice.
Today is the Day of International Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Attention will rightly be focused on New York, where – just as Israel did in 1948 – Palestine is making its case to the UN for statehood. Whatever Ministers decide is our position, some will be disappointed. The key point though is that the UK approach has been guided throughout by the principle that we want to maximise the chance of the creation of a viable Palestine, living in security alongside Israel.
But far from the halls of the UN, I wanted to use Solidarity Day to highlight the Shatila Theatre Trust’s programme of artistic collaboration between British artists and the Palestinians of Shatila camp in Lebanon, and their artistic director Peter Mortimer’s new book ‘Camp Shatila’, which is full of insights from his time spent living and working in the camp. I met Peter and his ebullient and talented colleagues today. They are Brits doing brilliant work on the ground, showing real solidarity with camp residents whose story is as troubled as any in the region.
Beyond this, our team here are part of a sustained wider effort with the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, the UN and Palestinian partners to improve the living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, to prevent crisis and resolve conflict. As more and more Syrian refugees arrive, we should also remind ourselves that this situation cannot be permanent. After a wasted decade, we have to put our shoulder to the wheel of a just two-state solution. I hope that will be the real conclusion of the vote in New York, and of our solidarity.

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