It's been reported in a few places that the Presiding Officer has summarily announced he will be boycotting the visit of the Israeli Ambassador in two weeks time. The Ambassador is being invited by the Plaid Cymru AM Mohammad Asghar.
I cannot be at the event because of a prior commitment, but I have emailed Mohammad as follows:
I am unlikely to be able to attend the meeting with the Ambassador as I will be travelling to an evening engagement in West Wales.
However, I do not want my absence to be seen in any way as part of the juvenile gesture politics provoked by the Presiding Officer. I think his response to the invitation to the Israeli Ambassador is discourteous to you, insulting to the people of Israel, and demeaning to the National Assembly.
UK Government policy recognises the role of Israel as a liberal democracy and also recognises the need to safeguard Israel’s security, as well as seeking to achieve justice for the Palestinian people. As the Foreign Secretary said yesterday ‘There is evidence of the possibility of reaching a solution to the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians based on the two-state idea….the solution lies in achieving justice for the Palestinians and guaranteeing security for the Israelis.’
Were I able to attend the event, I would want to convey to the Ambassador my concern about the situation faced by the Palestinian people.
I have supported the rights of the Palestinians for decades. Thirty years ago I attended the funeral of the assassinated PLO Representative in London, Said Hammami, at the invitation of Palestinian friends who were students with me at Bangor University, one of whom is now the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and was involved in the drafting of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
I believe that we will only see peace in the Middle East if there is a viable Palestinian state based on the boundaries of 1967 – and equally an Israeli state free from terror, recognised by the Arab world. That means dialogue, not pointless gestures.