|A delegation of Young Labour activists is this week visiting Israel and the Palestinian Territories on a joint delegation organised by LFI and We Believe in Israel.
- The trip is LFI’s first activist delegation to the region in more than a decade.
- The itinerary has given delegates a varied introduction to Israel as a country, as well as the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the longstanding sister party relationship between UK Labour and Israeli Labor.
- This year has already seen two LFI delegations to Israel for shadow Middle East minister Bambos Charalambous and shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, with more planned for the future.
- Speaking ahead of the delegation, LFI director Michael Rubin said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to restart delegations for Young Labour activists after so long. These activists represent the Labour Party’s future, and so it is essential that they have an understanding of the history and complexity of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the wider Middle East. I’m especially pleased that the activists will be able to further rekindle our sister party relationship with the Israeli Labor Party, a reminder that Labour’s future is one of friendship and support for our progressive counterparts in Israel”.
- Meanwhile, We Believe in Israel Director Luke Akehurst said: “We Believe in Israel has a long history of taking political activists on their first visits to Israel, as part of our strategy of educating key players in UK political life and civil society. We are currently prioritising taking young people from the main political parties and hope that this initial tour by some of the rising stars of the Labour Party will help shift opinion in Young Labour towards a more balanced approach to the conflict.”
Introduction to Israel
Delegates visited some of Israel’s best-known sites to provide an insight into the country’s history and culture, including a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem and a visit to Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust remembrance centre.
The delegation will also visit the Gaza border for a briefing on the security situation there, the Peres Center in Tel Aviv, and Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, where they met with university president Daniel Chamovitz to discuss Israel’s innovative higher education field and work tackling energy security and poverty.
The delegation also met with a number of political figures, including deputy foreign minister Idan Roll and a tour of the Knesset.
The Young Labour activists also visited Al-Amari refugee camp in the West Bank, followed by a productive meeting with Zimam Palestine – a grassroots Palestinian youth movement seeking to build mutual trust and foster peace for young people in the region.
A key part of the delegation has been meetings with coexistence organisations that bring Jews and Arabs together. On Tuesday, the delegates met with the Abraham Initiatives in Haifa to learn about their work building a shared society in the north of Israel, including a meeting with former deputy mayor of Haifa Shahira Shalaby, who discussed her experience in the women’s movement and coexistence projects.
As part of the ongoing process to rebuild and renew the sister party relationship between UK and Israeli Labour, the activists also met with Labor MK Ibtisam Mara’ana and their counterparts from Israeli Young Labor. The delegates will also meet with young Fatah activists in the West Bank.
Reflecting on her experiences on the delegation so far, Young Labour activist and delegation participant Lauren Howells said:
- “I’m so glad to have had this opportunity to visit a part of the world that is so often discussed in our party, but which is often so poorly understood. This delegation has really opened my eyes to the complexity of the region, and the need for progressives in the UK to support peacebuilders in both Israel and Palestine, and the need for a two state solution.”
You can read Jewish News’ coverage of the trip so far here.