08 March 2011
The upgrade is an acknowledgement of the improvements made by the Palestinian Authority in its state building agenda and their progress against their roadmap commitments, and the extent of UK aid to the Palestinian Authority and the UK’s work with them. Under the upgrade the Delegation Office will be renamed the “Palestinian Mission”. There will also be simplified visa arrangements for members of the mission and other administrative benefits.
Speaking ahead of his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas today, the Foreign Secretary said:
“Under President Abbas’ leadership, Prime Minister Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority have made significant progress in building the foundations of a viable Palestinian state in line with their road map commitments. In light of this, and given the extent of our aid to the Palestinian Authority and our work with them, I will today confirm that we will join many other countries in upgrading the status of the Palestinian Delegation to London to the level of a Mission.
The UK continues to support the creation of a sovereign, independent and contiguous Palestinian State alongside a safe and secure Israel at peace with its neighbours. But we also continue to believe that the best way to achieve a lasting solution that delivers this is through a negotiated solution. We want to see an urgent return to negotiations, based on clear parameters including 1967 borders. We will work with all the parties to press for a decisive breakthrough in 2011. I will discuss these issues with President Abbas today”.
More information on our work on the Middle East Peace Process
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Richard Burden MP
8 March 2011 | For immediate release
Contact: Duncan Sinclair +44 (0)20 7219 2318 / +44 (0)7837 257 001
Chair of Palestine parliamentary group welcomes upgrading of Palestinian Delegation
The UK government today announced that it is upgrading the Palestinian Delegation to London to the level of a Mission.
Responding to the announcement Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, said:
‘I am pleased that the government has upgraded the Palestinian Delegation and increased their diplomatic recognition in the UK.
‘Today’s announcement also recognises the Palestinians as a people. As a people they have rights – but they have been denied those rights for too long. We must now re-double all our efforts to bring an end to the occupation and achieve an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel.
‘I look forward to when the UK can announce the next upgrading of the Palestinian Mission in the UK and the opening of an Embassy of the State of Palestine.’
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Duncan Sinclair: +44 (0)20 7219 2318 / +44 (0)7837 257 001 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Foreign ministry spokesman says the Palestinians ‘are refusing to renew direct talks, and at the same time they are getting these gestures that are encouraging them in their current policy.’
Israel Tuesday decried Britain’s decision to upgrade the Palestinian General Delegation in Britain is to the level of a mission.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor charged the “unhelpful measure” would only strengthen Palestinian rejectionism.
“They are refusing to renew direct talks, and at the same time they are getting these gestures that are encouraging them in their current policy,” he told the German Press Agency dpa.
But Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki welcomed the step as a “good” step, which however was “not enough.” He called for recognition of a Palestinian state in the borders of 1967, during which Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced London’s decision to upgrade the Palestinian diplomatic delegation’s status Monday, ahead of a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, scheduled for Tuesday. Abbas is also due to have talks with Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Palestinian General Delegation in London, which refers to itself as an embassy, is headed by Ambassador Manuel Sarkis Hassassian.
Israel is concerned about its worsening international standing, as the peace process remains frozen, with the Palestinians conditioning direct negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a freeze Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Abbas’ West Bank-based leadership is suspicious of Netanyahu’s intentions and has said it will not hold lengthy negotiations without his right-leaning government just so that it can enjoy increased international legitimacy, while settlement construction continues.
Netanyahu has said he cannot and will not halt construction in areas which Israeli consensus holds should become part of Israel under a future peace deal, and has repeatedly urged Abbas to drop his precondition.
But his Palestinian Authority meanwhile pushes to upgrade its international status, asking countries to recognize a Palestinian state and to upgrade the Palestinian missions to their capitals.
A number of South American states have already done so.
Former Dutch prime minister Dries van Agt said in an interview published Tuesday he expected the first European country to recognize Palestine to be Norway, which is not a member of the EU. He told Haaretz he had reasons to believe Spain would be the first EU country to follow.
Netanyahu, in what critics have already blasted as an empty attempt to prove to the Israeli public he has a foreign policy, plans to present a new peace initiative this spring, offering the Palestinians a state with provisional borders, with sovereignty in
parts of the West Bank where they currently enjoy autonomy. Abbas rejects a state with provisional borders.
Netanyahu is expected nonetheless to make the offer in an address in Washington in May, either to Congress or to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the US pro-Israel lobby.
Malki said Abbas had asked Hague for the upgrade during a visit to the region last year by the British foreign secretary, who had told the Palestinian leader he would “consider” the request.
“We are looking for Britain and for European countries to recognize the Palestinian state,” he told Voice of Palestine Radio, adding the Palestinian Authority continued to work on that.