Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry returned to Britain this week after visiting Israel with LFI. During a four-day trip to Israel and the West Bank, she was accompanied by the shadow minister for peace and disarmament Fabian Hamilton.
Ms Thornberry met with the new leader of the Israeli Labor party, Avi Gabbay (pictured). The two discussed the stalled peace process, Israel-UK relations and how to strengthen ties between Labour and its Israeli sister party. During a meeting with the leader of the opposition, Isaac Herzog, the shadow foreign secretary discussed Israeli domestic politics as well as the relationship between Labour and the Israeli Labor party. Ms Thornberry also met with Labor MKs Hilik Bar, Michal Biran, Stav Shaffir and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin.
In a meeting with Tzachi Hanegbi, the minister for regional co-operation, Ms Thornberry discussed the peace process and Israel’s warming ties with neighbouring Sunni states, as well as the Iran nuclear deal.
Ms Thornberry also met with Britain’s ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, and with former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner. They discussed the Israeli legal system and Israel’s thriving democracy and independent judiciary. Ms Thornberry visited the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism and received a briefing by Professor Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the ICT.
Ms Thornberry’s time in Israel began with a visit to Yad Vashem where she laid a wreath. She also met with young people in Jerusalem who are alumni of MEET – Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow – an Israeli-Palestinian coexistence project. During a trip to the south, Ms Thornberry visited Kibbutz Nir Oz and Kibbutz Erez on the Gaza border, where she was able to see the security threats posed by Hamas to Israel up close, as well as talking with residents who have experienced rocket attacks.
Ms Thornberry also spent two days in the Palestinian Territories with Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.
Commenting on the trip, Emily said:
“The briefings I received on the security situation, not just the domestic terror threat but the wider regional picture, just confirmed for me what a long way there is to go before Israeli citizens can feel safe in their homes and on their streets. None of it was unfamiliar to me – the tunnels, the random stabbings, the car rammings, the air raids, and so on – but I do think that if more people in Britain understood what it’s like for ordinary Israelis to have to live with that constant undercurrent of fear, there would be better understanding of why the security situation is so fundamental to any progress.”
LFI chair Joan Ryan, who accompanied Ms Thornberry during the Israel leg of her trip, said:
“LFI is delighted to be visiting Israel with the shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry and shadow minister for peace and disarmament Fabian Hamilton. On our delegation we have met with colleagues from our sister party to reaffirm the Labour-Labor relationship, as well as paying our respects at Yad Vashem and meeting a coexistence project that works to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in the spirit of peace and reconciliation. It’s now more important than ever to strengthen the relationship between the UK and Israel and support those working towards a two-state solution.”
You can read Emily’s full reflections on the trip in the Jewish Chronicle.