What should be in a Palestinian Magna Carta or bill of rights? I asked this question earlier this week to twenty young Palestinians, during a discussion to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. Two things struck me about their answers. Firstly, most of the participants wanted one freedom above all others. They wanted freedom of movement. Freedom to move around the West Bank without checkpoints. Freedom … A Palestinian Magna Carta
Forty-eight years ago this week, the Middle East was engulfed in war. This war, known as the 1967 war or the Six Day War, changed the shape of the region. And it dramatically changed the lives of many living here. I have met Palestinians in the cities and refugee camps of the region and have heard many stories of what is known amongst Palestinians as the “Naksa”: of lives uprooted … Let us look for hope after 48 years…
Earlier this month, Palestinians joined people around the world celebrating International Women’s Day. Palestinians have much to celebrate on this day. I’ve been struck during my time here by the dedication of Palestinian women: running successful businesses; influencing politics; building communities in spite of the difficult conditions imposed by the Occupation. To celebrate International Women’s Day, I spent last week meeting Palestinian businesswomen. All had inspiring stories of overcoming obstacles … Palestinian Women; building a Palestinian state and society
There is no escaping olive trees in this part of the world. Olives appear on every table. Olive oil is liberally poured on every dish. The unmistakeable shape of olive trees lines every hillside. Even the Christmas ornaments I hung on my tree last week are fashioned out of olive wood. The olive tree is not simply a tree here. It is a source of life, a cultural treasure, and … Olives are the bread and butter for Palestinians
Last month one of my friends took me on a tour of the Old City with my son. We jostled with the crowds shopping at Damascus Gate. We ate kaek. We smelt the pungent spices and coffee. We felt humbled by the sight of Christian, Muslim and Jewish worshippers heading towards their holy sites. Jerusalem is beautiful. I am lucky to live here. But I share the concern of many … There is a Future, in Jerusalem, for Palestinians
On Monday night, the British Parliament voted in favour of a non-binding motion, calling the government to recognise the state of Palestine as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution. Palestinians I have spoken to in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Gaza and Hebron have delivered the same message to me. So what is the British government’s policy? The UK is and will continue to be a strong supporter of the … UK will continue to support statehood building effort and to recognize the State at the right time
Visiting Hebron for the first time reminded me of my childhood in the Scottish city of Glasgow. The narrow alleyways hung with washing; kids in the street playing football; conversations across garden walls. A city in which family is everything and privacy is a rare commodity. But the similarities end when you enter ‘H1’. This area of Hebron has rightly earned its nickname of ‘Ghost Town’. Stepping through the checkpoint … A life free from fear
Welcome to my new blog! Some of you will remember me from my time as Ambassador in South Sudan. Others will be meeting me for the first time. I have been in Jerusalem for five months and would like to start a conversation with you about this fascinating part of the world. My first five months have been a whirlwind. From a British point of view, there have been plenty … Welcome to my new blog!
Dr Alastair McPhail CMG OBE was appointed Her Majesty’s British Consul General to Jerusalem in January 2014. We are currently updating these pages where he will soon begin blogging about his new post. Please keep an eye out for his first blog.