In a session in the House of Commons, Committee Room 9 on Wednesday October 24th two MPs, Dave Anderson and David Borrow and Hanif Adeel, the Parliamentary Advisor to Khalid Mahmood MP, spoke about their experience on the 24-29th August 2007 MEPI Fact Finding Visit. The meeting was chaired at first by Khalid Mahmood MP and then by Brian Iddon MP.
click here for a report of the fact-finding visit
I’m an adviser to an All Party Parliamentary Group on Combating Terrorism. I found this MEPI visit very useful because of the opportunity to meet people directly involved with terrorism issues.
In order to tackle the issue of terrorism we need to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It won’t resolve everything but it will have a significant effect on reducing worldwide tensions.
In the Tel Aviv Conference we met the former Israeli Minister of Defence Amir Peretz who resigned after the second Lebanese war, we also met the former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami. The unique insight they gave us was very helpful, they could give us a different perspective from that given regularly by the media.
General Dani Yatom MK, former Chief of Mosad, also spoke to us in Tel Aviv and then met David Borrow and I in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) the next day to provide with expert evidence on tackling terrorism.
David Borrow MP
I am very grateful to MEPI for giving me the opportunity to be there and to be involved.
I think it is very important to understand the people of both communities, to ask ourselves ‘How do they feel?’ It’s very important for us to know before getting involved. I am on the Defence Select Committee and this is a point that emerges frequently in our discussions. No matter what we feel in the UK it’s important to understand what the locals are thinking. As a politician we are constrained by the feelings of the people we represent.
I think the international community made a mistake when they cut off the aid to the Hamas Government. It was a mistake by the US and the EU. There needs to be dialogue with groups with which we have problems. The turning off of aid may not have been the tactically the right thing to do. It was a miscalculation and it rebounded on us.
David Anderson MP
I went with this MEPI group because of the work I’ve done as Chair with the Labour Friends of Iraq All Party Parliamentary Group and as Chair of Third World Solidarity.
MEPI did a great job in bringing the right people, the movers and shakers in Israel and Palestine, the people that are concerned and that can make a change. I recommend the MEPI visit to Israel and Palestine to any other MP if they can make it.
One thing that MEPI did was to arrange appointments with the right people even at very short notice according to our requests. I had asked for meetings with someone from the Histadrut (Israeli Labour Movement). They found Avital Shapira, Director of Histadrut’s International Activity to meet and speak to us. When I hear the work of fellow socialists like her for the rights of Palestinian workers I can get a different perspective of the work for peace in the region.
We had an intense day in Tel Aviv where MEPI found four members of the Knesset, Former Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs, Former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several top journalists to speak to us. We also had lunch with the former Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz.
Moustafa Barghouti, Former Presidential candidate and former Minister of Communication told us that unless the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people by the wall and the checkpoints were lifted there would be no way to bring peace. We visited Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem which is an excellent hospital but access to it is limited because of the wall that surrounds Bethlehem.
I don’t care what your faith is if you have good will and you’re doing good works I will support it. I want to say thank you to MEPI and recommend if you get the chance to go you should take it.
(Meeting Ami Peretz MK in Tel Aviv)