All that was contentious about his remarks is best described in a critique written that same day by Melanie Phillips:
"....Sir Sherard appeared to be inhabiting a looking-glass world. Every single thing he said was, frankly, a monstrous inversion of history, justice and rationality.
Anyone who really loves Israel and wants it to survive, he said, wants it to make the peace that has been on offer since 1937, when the British proposed the division of Palestine between the Jews and the Arabs.
But it was not the Jews who turned down that offer – but the Arabs. The Jews accepted it. It was not the Jews who resisted the two-state solution proposed by the UN partition of 1947, but the Arabs who tried to exterminate Israel at birth. The Jews had accepted it. It was not the Jews who resisted the formation of a Palestine state between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan and Egypt illegally occupied the West Bank and Gaza – it never occurred to the Arabs to suggest it. It was not Israel which resisted the two state solution in 2000, or under Ehud Olmert’s premiership: it was Israel which actually offered the Arabs most of the disputed land to establish a state of their own. It was the Arabs who rejected it and made war instead on the Jews. What on earth is Sir Sherard talking about?
Next, he told us that no-one is calling into question Israel’s right to exist. Nice of him. But – there was a ‘but’. If it wanted to exist in a reasonable form, he said, it would do so not by keeping the Arabs down but by making a deal with them to live in peace. But all Israel wants to do is live in peace with them; it’s the Arabs who reject that proposition. Nor does Israel ‘keep them down’, as Sir Sherard so offensively claimed: all its military or repressive measures are in place solely to prevent more Israelis from being murdered, because the Arabs refuse to make the peace and make war instead. How can Sir Sherard so grotesquely misrepresent this?
Next, he intoned that it is not in Israel’s interests for there to be a single bi-national state. You don’t say. ‘If they want a Jewish state in the Middle East’, he said,’ there has to be a peace deal and they have to do it soon’. What? ‘If they want a Jewish state in the Middle East?’ Since when was this a questionable proposition? Presumably he means it won't stay Jewish if it rules the Arabs in the territories. But Israel doesn't want to rule the Arabs in the territories. It has repeatedly offered to give away most of the territories. Sir Sherard seems not to have noticed but the Arabs keep refusing to take them. And if Israel gives them up and Iran promptly moves in -- the most likely scenario -- what price Sir Sherard's Jewish state then?
And has no-one told Sir Sherard that it is Abbas and co who are refusing to negotiate with Israel, not the other way round? And that Abbas and co are refusing to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state – ever? Might that not, in the mind of even Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, be a pretty good reason why ‘the door is closing on the two-state solution’?
But no – Sir Sherard went on to identify the real source of the problem, which apparently lay in Washington as much as in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Ah yes – those Zionist fanatics in the Obama administration. And he concluded ‘We will all suffer if Israel persists in this present course of trying to survive by force of arms’.
Let’s unpack that poisonous little sentence. He is suggesting that Israel is wilfully and perversely choosing to wage war rather than live in peace. Israel, the one country which cannot afford to sacrifice a single young person but has had to sacrifice so many in the endless war that has been forced upon it purely in order to stave off annihilation, is thus being represented as choosing not to live in peace – and putting the rest of the world at risk as a result...."Earlier this month, in a lecture to the Conservative Middle East Forum, Sir Sherard was at it again,saying, inter alia:
'The first and greatest thing we can do in the West is to right the wrong that has been done to the Palestinians. We can never right it completely, but in Israel’s own interest, we should be helping the only the country that can solve this problem, not on its own but without it nothing can be done. And following the recommendations which Lord Peel made in 1937, he called it then, “partition,” so did the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947, later Presidents Carter, Clinton, even George W. Bush, whom we should never forget was the first American President to promise a Palestinian state, he did so in 2002 and assured his listeners that it would be established by 2005, but delivering that which only America can do.
Helping America break the stranglehold that an ill-informed Israel lobby has over American politics is the biggest single contribution that we can make, and it’s a debt that we as Conservatives, we as Britons, still have, in my view, sitting on our account. It does, in my view, mean that sometimes we have to be more conditional in our support of America and perhaps a little bit more French and a little less British, if you get my drift. Sometimes for the Americans, and those in the American system, who know what needs to be done, a little bit of pressure from London would, I think, help them in their task, and a little bit of short term turbulence would be a small price to pay for discharging the debt.
I say this as a Hebrew-speaking, former Ambassador to Israel, someone who has deep affection for the Jewish people. I believe passionately that Israel on its present course is embarked on a pathway to assisted suicide: suicide assisted by the Congress of the United States. The idea that this problem can be solved by walling up the Palestinians in the Middle Eastern equivalent of the Bantustans, which the South African Government embarked on in the 1940s, is not only offensive morally, it is deeply out of keeping with everything we know of human history. It will not work, it cannot work, it should not work. And anyone who has a real affection for the Jewish people will want to help them avoid this looming disaster, further disaster in their history.
And one of the collateral benefits of peace with Israel, a just settlement in Palestine, will be, if I may put it crudely, to put the Jews back in the Middle East. Because, one of the many examples of collateral damage from the creation of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, has been to remove the cultural and commercial yeast which the Jewish communities provided in Baghdad, in Damascus, in Aleppo, in Cairo, in Alexandria, right across the Middle East....
Imagine London, imagine New York, without the cultural and commercial yeast provided by Jewish communities... It was a dawn which broke, but a false dawn, with the Camp David accords, where it was possible to go by bus from Cairo to Tel Aviv and back again, and one saw the beginnings of engagement, but it was all abandoned with good reason starting with the attack on the Osirak reactor.....'In his lecture Sir Sherard made some thought-provoking points. However, as Melanie Phillips observed in 2011:
"Let’s be clear. There is one overwhelming reason for the continuation of the Middle East impasse, the deaths of so many Israeli innocents, the hardships of the Arabs in the territories and the escalating danger to both Israel and the world. From the very start of this terrible conflict in the 1920s, when the Arabs in Palestine started to murder Jews in order to stop their return to their ancestral homeland, the British response was to reward that terror by offering the Arabs part of the Jews’ legally binding entitlement.
That pernicious and amoral response has continued to this day – led by the British but echoed down the decades by America and Europe. The more terrorism perpetrated by the Arabs, the more Britain, America and Europe treated them as statesmen fighting for a just cause and tried to force Israel to sacrifice its security to realise that cause. But if terrorism is rewarded and its victims punished, those perpetrating such aggression will merely step it up. That is precisely what has happened.
It is attitudes such as those displayed this morningby Sir Sherard ... which exculpate the Arab aggressors and punish their Israeli victim, which is the main reason why there is no peace in the Middle East.... "Read Jonathan Hoffman's take on the speech here