LFI chair: World leaders meeting at G7 must back initiatives promoting coexistence

LFI chair Steve McCabe MP. David Woolfall, CC BY 3.0.

Labour Friends of Israel chair Steve McCabe MP and Conservative Friends of Israel chair Stephen Crabb MP have written the below article for Jewish News. Click here to read the original.

The chairs of Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel, Steve McCabe and Stephen Crabb, appeal to decision makers to support the International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.

As leaders from the G7 nations meet in Cornwall this weekend, they will consider joint responses to a rang of global challenges.

After the latest round of violence, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will likely feature – a long-standing agenda item at any multilateral forum.

The recent clashes have demonstrated the necessity to invest in peacebuilding initiatives, not only between Israelis and Palestinians but also among Jewish and Arab communities within Israel itself.

Now is the time to show that the UK is truly committed to peace.

There is a one-off opportunity at the upcoming summit to make a positive, lasting impact for all peoples of the region in coordination with our closest allies.

In a rare showing of cross-party support, 65 Parliamentarians signed a cross-party letter to the Foreign Secretary last week which underlined the urgent need to repair cross-communal relations in Israel and support peacebuilding efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.

We both joined colleagues in calling on the UK Government to play a full role as joint partners in establishing an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, as envisioned by the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act which commits the US to spending $250 million on peacebuilding.

As well as bringing Israelis and Palestinians together, the Fund will support shared society projects between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs in order to build mutual understanding and trust.

On his landmark visit to Israel in 2018, His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge visited the Equaliser football programme in Jaffa, which brings together Jewish and Arab children over their shared love of football.

At the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart in Holon, Israeli surgeons train Palestinian doctors and work alongside each other to provide life-saving heart surgery to children from the developing world, Gaza and the West Bank.

These initiatives not only teach valuable skills that benefit participants and ultimately even save lives, they are extremely effective in building long-lasting ties between communities.

This vision of peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians is in sharp contrast to that propagated by the extremists like Hamas who instead seek to suggest peace is impossible. They have even gone so far as to arrest Palestinians for the “crime” of participating in peacebuilding initiatives. A reminder, once again, that Hamas are an enemy of peace.

Laying the foundations for a lasting peace also requires challenging Iran’s pernicious influence in the region, which is compounding the political impasse.

Iran has assisted Hamas’s rearmament efforts since the 2014 conflict, providing the terror group with a reported sum of $30 million monthly as well as sponsoring the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Iranian technical expertise helped Hamas and PIJ to produce thousands of missiles in local factories and workshops in Gaza, circumventing the challenge of smuggling Iranian missiles into the territory.

Ultimately, regional peace remains unattainable if Iran’s malign influence is not curtailed. The Abraham Accords signed between Israel and her Gulf partners last year show that peace is possible; we must move swiftly to ensure this momentum is not lost.

This weekend, G7 leaders have a choice. We urge them to support initiatives promoting peace, reject the language of division and break the cycle of violence.