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KCL Tories “Port and Policy” event on Israel-Palestine brings heated debate and fresh controversy

On the 27th of October, the King’s Conservative Association and Israel Society, along with their UCL counterparts, held a Port-and-Policy type debate on the topics of the proposed two-state solution for Israel-Palestine and whether Jerusalem should be recognised as the Jewish state’s capital.

November 17th, 2022 update: The first version of this article commented on the KCLCA’s use of the Chatham House Rule and suggested that it had only been used, at late notice, for this event. Despite the Instagram post for the event having no mention of the rule, the KCLCA do use the Chatham House Rule for their meetings on occasion and when they do so it is advertised to participants on arrival. We are happy to correct this.

Before the debate even started, a provocative mood was set by the choice of dressing of some attendees. The most provocative of which was what can only be described as a caricature of a Middle Eastern terrorist. Keffiyeh scarves and a “Make America Great Again” hat could also be spotted.

Topic 1: the house opposes the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The proposition (opposing the two-state Solution) argued that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians wanted to coexist, so it would only create more conflict as either side have opposing views. The debater further argued that the implementation of a two-state solution could only be brought about by western imposition, not by the Israelis or Palestinians themselves.

To this, the opposition (supporting the two-state solution) argued that conflicts do arise even in other examples of two-state splits such as Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, they stressed that due to ongoing magnitude of the tension and violence, some sort of action has to be taken, and that should be in the form of the two-state solution. Further, the opposition debater expressed that the IDF’s presence is necessary as Israelis, especially those living in settlements within the West Bank, are exposed to great danger.

At this point a member of the audience exclaimed that at least it’s a “one to five kill ratio”, referring to the death toll of Israelis versus Palestinians. This comment was followed by some booing and a few “unsound!” exclamations, but no attempt to expulse the attendee or demand an apology from him.

The next proposition debater added that a two-state solution would lower the welfare of the Palestinian peoples as any government established would likely not hold free and fair elections or respect the rights of minorities, such as the LGBT population. The debater urged that a regime led by Hamas would harm Palestinians and Israelis alike. However, it’s worth noting that Hamas is not supported by all Palestinians.

Next, the opposition argued that the principle of the two-state solution is a good one, and that Palestinian hatred towards Israelis complicates cooperation for governance (he presented a questionnaire study that Roar have not been able to share). Further, in the current state, Palestinians use Israelis as scapegoats for policy failures, which would not happen in a two-state solution. Another point made was that the two-state solution would facilitate Palestinian and Israeli cooperation in the face of relations with neighbouring countries.

What both sides did agree on was that the IDF fulfils its rule in promoting security, not oppressing Palestinians. And, when compared with Hamas, it is the more humanitarian off the two as it leaves Palestinian civilians to evacuate their homes before potential airstrikes or attacks.

After the debate, short speeches took place. One of which brought back the comparison with the Ireland-Northern Ireland conflict, and urged that any type of solution that stops bloodshed should be implemented. Another speech argued in favour of two-state solution as it would ensure that Israelis have the security they choose to. Lastly, a separate speech presented how prosperous the Israeli economy is and how the two-state solution would only enhance this.

After a break accompanied by port wine, the second debate took place.

Topic 2: The house recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Once again, the debate started with the opposition, which argued that by Israel declaring Jerusalem its capital it is denying others’ right to identify with the city as a capital. This is especially problematic in the case of Jerusalem, as it is one of the three holy cities in Islam (along with Mecca and Medina) and important to Christians too.

Later on, in the speeches section, one person begged the question: if Muslims already govern Mecca and Medina, why can’t Jews have Jerusalem? Moving back to the main argument, the opposition commented that the Israelis have lost more than six wars in the fight for the capital implying that it is a lost cause. Additionally, letting Jerusalem be the capital of Israel would infringe on Palestine’s right to self-determination, almost comparable to Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

The proposition commenced with the point that in the long-standing history of the city of Jerusalem, the Jews have had the longest history. Even though recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would be a foreign policy crisis, it is important to do so as the city is the basis of the constitution and it is sensible for the city at the centre of Judaism to be the capital of the sole Jewish state. Furthermore, they argued that the Quran does even not mention Jerusalem, suggesting that it lacks significance in Islam. While it’s true that Jerusalem is not mentioned by name, it’s worth noting that there’s considerable debate over whether the Quran and other Islamic texts make reference to Jerusalem.

The debater ended his remark saying “Jerusalem has been the true capital of Israel/Judaism for two thousand years and it will continue to be so for two thousand more”.

The opposing rebuttal stated that, regardless of references in the Quran, ancient scriptures do not determine the right to make a city one’s capital as in that case Rome would have claim over the holy city and the Native Americans would have a hold over the whole of the United States and Canada. This rebuttal was ended in the note that in light of Israeli self-proclamation of Jerusalem as its own capital, the Palestinians have the right to fight back aggressively.

The last argument brought forward by the proposition side questioned why Western international organisations have the authority to nullify Israeli’s self-determination of Jerusalem as their capital. The opposition stated that embassies moving their capital is a breach of international law, which the proposition questions the legitimacy of in the first place, as well as questioning the stability and functionality of having Jerusalem be an international zone, as it is declared to be by the UN. This debate is a complicated one as there are treaties that recognise both sides: on the one hand, the Abraham Accords aaffirm Israel’s sovereignty while treaties such as the Abbas peace plan demanded Israel push back to the accorded 1967 state boundaries.

The first in the round of speeches stated that history is only used to justify a moralized argument, and that international law is the resting block of legality and stability even though in practice it is only enforced by those who have the power to do so. Thus, Israel should recognise the reality of the situation and gain bargaining power to set Jerusalem as the capital in a law-abiding way. Other speeches claimed that it is unfair to declare Jerusalem as Arab but not as Jewish, another argued that when the US moved their embassy to Jerusalem there was no real backlash. Yet another speech argued that self-determination overpowers international law and that Jerusalem is key for Judaism, so it not being a Jewish capital means that the Jewish may be denied access to their religious sites.

The KCL Conservative Association provided Roar with the following statement on the event…

Statement on P&P 27th Oct 22 (01st Nov)



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