On Wednesday 6th December CMEC hosted Secretary John Kerry at the Institute of Directors, chaired by the BBC's James Landale for a talk to mark the the centenary of the Balfour Declaration and its impacts and undeniable legacy in the Middle East today.
A message from Secretary John Kerry for CMEC's Centenary Commemoration of the Balfour Declaration:
"100 years ago, Arthur Balfour became the first national leader to put into words what today has become a matter of conviction for the community of nations: the creation of a homeland for the Jewish people in the historic land of Israel is a cause not just for the Jewish people but for all people.
The galvanizing credibility that Balfour brought to the movement cannot be overstated nor can it be overstated that a century later, the work is far from finished. The dream of a homeland is built on a lasting peace that remains elusive. But it is also clear that if we want the security for Israel and the freedom and dignity for the Palestinians that only peace can bring, we cannot give up on finding a lasting resolution: two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace.
This is not an impossible dream. It is achievable, with courage, leadership and determination."
Secretary John F Kerry
CMEC Chairman, The Rt Hon Sir Hugo Swire KCMG MP, welcomed guests and explained the continuing importance of the Balfour Declaration:
"Your Excellencies, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, as Chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council it is a great pleasure to welcome you to this special evening, recognising the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. I do want to emphasise that this is a private event. May I therefore ask you to refrain from Tweeting or taking photographs throughout this evening, which is being held under the Chatham House Rule.
It is a particular honour for CMEC to welcome Secretary John Kerry – the 68th Secretary of State of the United States of America. We all look forward to hearing your thoughts on The Balfour Declaration and the Middle East in 2017.
Secretary Kerry was elected to the US Senate in 1985 where he served continuously until his appointment as Secretary of State for President Obama in February 2013.
Over the last three decades he has made many trips to the Middle East region, including both Israel and Palestine. There are perhaps few people better qualified, or more informed, to comment on the complexities of the Middle East today and the often painful story of Israel and Palestine.
100 years ago, Arthur Balfour penned an extraordinary single side of paper laying the foundations for the creation of the State of Israel. A century later, it is right that we consider the implementation and the legacy of the Balfour declaration.
And 100 years on, the challenges now facing the Middle East are as great as ever. In supporting the region through such turbulent times, it is vital that politicians in the West understand these challenges and context.
CMEC’s work is vital in engaging Parliamentarians with the Middle East. In a world where snap headlines and fake news is a common enemy of all who work for peace and stability, CMEC’s role in enabling Parliamentarians to understand the nuanced reality of the region is perhaps more important than ever.
I would also like to say a very sincere thank you to Ardeshir Nageshini and the Targetfollow Group, without whose generosity today’s event would not have been possible.
I am delighted to hand over to James Landale, the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent. Over to you, James."