Last week, Andrew had the pleasure of attending a trip to Israel organised by the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). The CFI is a group that has two aims: to support Israel and promote Conservatism in the UK. It does this by organising numerous events in and around Westminster, taking Conservative parliamentarians to Israel, campaigning for Tory candidates in target seats and ensuring Israel is fairly represented in Parliament.
The schedule for the week there was absolutely packed. One key element of the trip was learning about the intense security threats faced by Israel. This involved Andrew meeting with Dr Dany Tirza, who was in charge of building the security fence between Israel and Palestine at the height of the second intifada (uprising). Contrary to popular opinion, just 5% of this fence is a concrete wall. A visit to the strategically crucial Golan Heights was also on the agenda. Here, Andrew remarked that without this area being part of Israel “the rest of Israel will never be safe”.
The CFI were also keen for the parliamentarians to hear a wide array of perspectives, including those of the Palestinians. Thus, the delegation visited the first Palestinian planned city, Rawabit city and heard from the Palestinian Liberation Authority’s Chief Negotiator Saed Erekat. A visit to the Palestinian centre for policy and survey research provided information about the day to day issues faced by the Palestinian people.
A trip to Israel would never be complete without a visit to the world’s most critical religious city: Jerusalem. Here, the delegation met with the deputy mayor and visited the famous Western Wall, the most important site in the Jewish religion. This was capped off with an extremely moving trip to Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s holocaust memorial.
Perhaps the most heart-warming moment of the trip was a visit to Israeli charity Save A Child’s Heart which provides life saving treatment for children across the developing world, including those residing in the Palestinian territories.
This trip ultimately highlighted how Israel is a shining light of democracy, security and prosperity within the tumultuous Middle East. As Brits who share these values, we should thus see Israel as a model country in the region that we should be supportive of.