I was delighted to make my first visit to Israel this week as Shadow Minister for the Middle East and North Africa with Labour Friends of Israel and to speak at the UK-Israel Strategic Dialogue.
The busy itinerary which you can read about below left me with a deeper understanding of Israeli perspectives, the importance of a two state solution, and the opportunities and challenges faced by the broader Middle East region.
I also look forward to joining a delegation to Palestine later this spring to visit East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
On my first day I visited Yad Vashem to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and lay a wreath on behalf of the Labour Party, and I later met with Israel’s deputy foreign minister Idan Roll to discuss the peace process and regional security challenges.
Throughout my trip I also met with a number of civil society organisations such as MEET education and Darkenu who do important work locally.
Day 2 included visits to Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon and a security briefing looking at the role of the UN Disengagement Observer Force.
On Day 3, I visited the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv before meeting Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely and the British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan. It was great to meet both in person and I look forward to continuing this important dialogue.
I also had the pleasure of meeting colleagues from Labour’s sister parties in Israel, Havoda and Meretz, during the trip. I heard about their place in Israel’s governing coalition and it also provided an opportunity to renew ties between the British Labour Party and the Israeli left.
The final day focused on the UK-Israel Strategic Dialogue with Chatham House and ELNET, and I was proud to speak on behalf of Labour and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to a negotiated, diplomatic settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict based on two states: a safe and secure Israel, alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.