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 of high-level official visitors. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, came in March. We also hosted the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, in April. The British Parliament’s International Development Committee came to look at our development programme. And we have had British artists and musicians here.

Work in Jerusalem is usually dominated by the Middle East Peace Process. While I have been here we have seen the unravelling of the talks and the reconciliation agreement between the PLO and Hamas. Wherever I go, Palestinians of all ages and backgrounds tell me that they want peace but are pessimistic about the possibility of achieving it. We can only hope that the leaders of the two sides can change the cycle of action and reaction and finally deliver a peace deal for the people they represent.

Alastair Meets Mahmoud Abbas 1
My first meeting with President Abbas

My next blog will reflect on my impressions of a recent visit to Hebron. Future blogs will cover a wide range of topics.  But they won’t all be about politics. I would like to talk about other things, such as the local cuisine and the differences between the different parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And I look forward to hearing from you too. So watch this space!

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