Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Co-operation (Eurabia)
Diana Clark Gill, Ph.D. is the author of How We Are Changed by War: A Study of Letters and Diaries from Colonial Conflicts to Operation Iraqi Freedom. This blog has been written as part of a special series from members of the British Association for American Studies (BAAS).
Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter and Menahem Begin at the Camp David Accords Signing Ceremony, 1978. White House Staff Photographers, accessed via Wikimedia Commons.
When reviewing an historical event, I often enjoy researching the minutiae of the moment. What, I will wonder, was the weather like? What did the participants eat for breakfast? It is for this reason that I wanted to put Adam Matthew‚Äôs facsimile of the summary booklet for the 1977 ‚ÄėPeace and Palestinians‚Äô conference into a more detailed historical and cultural context ‚Äď drawn in by the little details, and encouraged by the fact that the fortieth anniversary of this significant event is rapidly approaching.
On that Friday and Saturday in 1977, not even thirty years had passed since the 1948 creation of Israel by the United Nations in an effort to rehome Jews displaced by WWII. Almost that same amount of time had elapsed since Al-Nakba ‚Äď the violent and sometimes deadly displacement of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and theft of their property by the Israeli army. Only ten years since the Six Day War where Israel gained control of the Sinai, Gaza, Golan Heights, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Five years since Palestinian terrorists executed the Israeli Olympic team in Munich. Three years since the Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) was recognized by the Arab League as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. And in London, on the two days of the seminar, it was cold and cloudy with a chance of rain.
The seminar, called by the British Section of PAEAC (The Parliamentary Association of Euro-Arab Cooperation), was organized by two British M.P.s ‚Äď the dramatic Labour politician Andrew Faulds, who wrote the summary‚Äôs Introductory Statement, and the Conservative Dennis Walters. PAEAC was formed after the 1973 oil embargo in order to foster better economic and social ties between European and Arab countries.
Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Co-operation (Eurabia), 1977. Crown Copyright documents ¬© are reproduced by permission of The National Archives London, UK. Click the image to view this document, open access, for 30 days.
Participants in the London conference numbered about a hundred statesmen ‚Äúnot only from the United States and the E.E.C. and other Western European countries, but also a number of people from the Middle East, including some Palestinians and Israelis‚ÄĚ. And though the report mentions the close relationship of the United States to Israel and its obligation to use that role to foster peace in the region, it closes by stating that a goodwill ‚Äúconclusion must lie with the protagonists in the Middle East; with the Palestinians and the Israelis.‚ÄĚ
Michael Adams admitted in the published conclusion about the conference that such comments ‚Äúemphasize[d] the current which ha[d] flowed through all our discussions - the current, even among people who have had the courage and the persistence to work for understanding and to take the risks of attending a meeting like this one, of continuing mistrust.‚ÄĚ
Returning to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip forty years after ‚ÄúPeace and the Palestinians‚ÄĚ, one is struck by the fact that violence remains not only in the occupied territories, but is also brewing elsewhere as illegal Israeli settlements proliferate and Palestinians are increasingly deprived of civil rights and subject to human rights violations. Globally the cause of the Palestinians has become a flashpoint for Middle Eastern resentment of the West. The remedy remains unclear.
PEACE AND THE PALESTINIANS: Record of the Proceedings, Part I will be available to access free of charge for the next 30 days.