Foreign Office Middle East and North Africa
James Watt: Thoughts on the Occupation

In his latest blog, our Ambassador in Jordan gives his thoughts on the country’s role in the West Bank after reading reports in the press quoting King Abdullah on his 48th birthday:

James says:

"The message is quite clear: Jordan will not accept any role in the West Bank, and the Jordanian army will not take the place of the Israeli one there. I know this to be the King’s rock-solid position.

The reason he has to keep restating it is because there are those on the Israeli side who keep coming back to the idea. They are the ones who will do anything to prevent the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state, which is the solution strongly backed by the entire international community, and which my own country has been working hard to achieve.”

Read the full post

The London Yemen Meeting

Today, representatives from governments across the world met in London to discuss Yemen; the challenges that the state faces in the immediate future and how to go present a coordinated global effort to assist its leaders. The meeting also focused on assistance to address the longer term economic and social factors underlying extremism and radicalisation.

Read the full outcomes of the Meeting

Our position on Yemen

Read the webchat with UK Ambassador to Yemen, Tim Torlot with Times Online

Scholarships for Palestinian students

Applications are now open for Olive Tree Scholarships, run by City University in London. Under the Programme the university awards a limited number of undergraduate scholarships (up to 12 at a time) to exceptional Palestinian and Israeli applicants, for study at City University. The award of a scholarship enables those selected to:

  • spend three years working on their chosen undergraduate degree course
  • participate in regular extra-curricula activities and retreats designed to facilitate dialogue and understanding across the conflict divide
  • acquire skills and knowledge relevant to conflict mediation, community work, protection of human rights and communication across cultures.

More (Jerusalem Consulate website)

Ala Younis exhibition in London

British Ambassador to Jordan, James Watt has flagged the current exhibition in London of Jordanian artist Ala Younis at the Delfina Foundation. Here’s what James says:

"The foundation was established by the philanthropist Delfina Entrecanales, of Spanish birth and long resident in London. Ala’s residency is partly supported by the British Council’s Creative Collaboration programme.  I wish much more could be done to promote this kind of exchange: artists have a unique role in helping us see through and beyond entrenched conflicts."

Read James’ blog

Enhancing university links between Britain and Israel

Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis expressed delight that UK government is to contribute an additional £29,000 to the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange partnership (BIRAX).

Foreign Office Minister, Ivan Lewis, said:

'I am delighted that the UK government is contributing an additional £29,000 to the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange partnership (BIRAX). In its first year the scheme went a long way to help build and enhance university links between Britain and Israel.'


British Embassy in Israel

British help Saudi towards low carbon economy

The British Government is bringing a trade mission to Saudi Arabia from 16 to 20 January 2010 which will visit Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam/Al Khobar. The focus of this mission is on the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient economy, and the UK Government has a vision for the UK to be at the heart of the multi-trillion dollar market that the low carbon economy will create.

More (British Embassy in Saudi website)

Egypt and Britain partnership is strong

Ivan Lewis ended a one day visit to Egypt by praising the bilateral relationship between the UK and Egypt. In the course of his time in Cairo he held meetings with the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Interior Minister. He also visited the Al Azhar English Language Centre where he announced UK scholarships for 10 Egyptian students from Al Azhar to study in the UK.

More (FCO news article)

Ambassador to Egypt, Dominic Asquith’s blog

Deputy Ambassador to Egypt, Jon Davies’ blog

James Watt on Gaza and the Israeli blockade

British Ambassador in Jordan welcomes the debate that sprang up from a previous post in his latest blog. James says:

"We are all appalled by the suffering inflicted quite unjustifiably on the population of Gaza by the Israeli blockade. Speaking for the British Government, the FCO has repeatedly called on Israel to lessen the restrictions on the Gaza crossings, and to allow the legitimate flow of humanitarian aid, and of reconstruction and trade goods, as well as the movement of people. We regularly remind the Israeli government of its obligations under international law, not only with regard to humanitarian access to Gaza, but also Israel’s control of Gazan waters and the effect this has on Gaza’s fishing industry."

Read the full blog and the comments

Read the blog in Arabic

Baroness Scotland delivers lecture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem

On Tuesday, 5 January 2010, the British Attorney General,the Right Honorable Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC spoke at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem on ‘Lawfare – Time for Rules of Engagement?’

The lecture was part of the Lionel Cohen Lecture Series that has been running in the Faculty of Law since 1953.

Click here for the text of Baroness Scotland’s lecture [PDF, 220 KB, new window].

British Embassy in Israel website

UK announces settlement labelling advice

getty imagesThe government has published advice to help provide clarity to traders and retailers who want to offer their consumers more information about the origin of produce from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The decision reflects the belief that consumers should be able to choose for themselves what produce they buy. In preparing this advice the government has been closely guided by the various views expressed by consumers and retailers.