The Israel / Palestine dispute is something of great concern to many British citizens.
Accordingly, CMF Executive Member and Chair of CMF Youth Cllr Hashim Bhatti organised a CMF Executive delegation to Israel and the West Bank which was facilitated by Forward Thinking. The CMF travellers were:
- Cllr Hashim Bhatti
- Lady Shaida Sheikh
- Kamru Ali
- Samir Thantrey
- Dr Haq Nawaz
- Mohammed Amin
- Tahara Amin
- Shaheen Thantrey
The aim of the visit was to develop participants’ understanding of the historical and contemporary issues in the conflict and to explore opportunities for dialogue. Most of the delegation had not been to the country before. All participants travelled at their own expense, and there was no cost to CMF funds.
The trip took place from 19-25 November. We were delighted to be given high level political access.
In two days at the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) we with MKs (Knesset Members) and party officials from Likud, Shas, the Joint List and the Labor Party.
They shared with us their political priorities and visions for the future for each party, covering such issues as the role of religion within the Israeli state, the challenges facing Palestinian citizens of Israel, trends within the Left and Right of Israeli politics.
The group also travelled to Lower Galilee to meet municipal leaders and explore examples of Jewish, Muslim and Christian coexistence in Israel at the level of civil society.
In the West Bank, the group met with senior current and former officials from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron. We learned about the challenge of achieving intra-Palestinian reconciliation between political factions, the difficulties facing the Palestinian education system, and the impact of occupation.
The group was hosted to tea by the British Ambassador to Israel His Excellency David Quarrey CMG, and to dinner by British Consul General Jerusalem Philip Hall OBE, who both gave us insights into the role of Britain in the region as well as their perspectives on Israel and the West Bank.
All participants came away with a significantly improved understanding of the issues.
They were also able to visit Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, and pray at the Dome of the Rock (pictured above at night) and the Al Aqsa Mosque, and in Hebron pray at the Ebrahimi Mosque (The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Judaism) where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried with their wives. The participants were also able to go sight seeing in Tel Aviv and Jaffa.