A group of British lawmakers found themselves the object of blame for the ongoing Mideast conflict during a meeting with senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah, reported Times of Israel.
The accusations were hurled at a joint luncheon with longtime PA negotiator Nabil Shaath and other officials, who cited the 1923–1948 British Mandate for Palestine as the beginning of their problems.
“There were certainly fireworks at that meeting,” said James Gurd, executive director of the CFI group, an advocacy organization that brings parliamentarians from the U.K. Conservative party on trips to Israel and lobbies for Israel in Westminster.
John Howell MP, the vice president of CFI and head of the delegation, said the topic of Rawabi triggered a tense debate.
“One of the things we were trying to say was that if you had a number of Rawabis then perhaps you might have a more contented population,” Howell said after the meeting.
The success of the first planned Palestinian city has been a subject of debate within the PA, critics contending that a modern, comfortable Palestinian city serves to normalize the Israeli occupation.
“But I think the real fireworks came from suggestion that the PLO would lose an election tomorrow to Hamas. That really put them at unease,” Howell said.
“The specific accusations that came out from the meeting were the attempt 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,” Howell said. “It’s such a naive view of things.”
“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.”