CAABU’s Parliamentary Delegations to Palestine
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 8th February, 2011
At the AGM of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) this evening, Director Chris Doyle and Parliamentary Officer Graham Bambrough reported back on the delegations of parliamentarians they had led to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip recently. These parliamentary visits to Palestine — and less often to other Arab states — are one of the most valuable aspects of the work of CAABU, on whose Executive Board I sit. It is difficult for many MPs and Peers to visualise the realities of Israeli occupation or blockade without seeing it for themselves. MPs such as Ed Davey and Sarah Teather have testified about the impact their visits to Palestine had. As the May 2010 election saw the biggest influx of ‘new boys and girls’ to the House of Commons, a lot of conscious-raising now needs to be done. I was pleased to see that two new LibDem MPs, David Ward (Bradford East) and Julian Huppert (Cambridge) were amongst those who took up the opportunity to visit the region since they were elected. Chris Doyle spoke movingly of 12- and 13-year-old Palestinian boys being brought in chains before an Israeli military court, accused of stone-throwing. And once again one heard awful stories of the vicious harrassment inflicted on some Palestinian farmers and their families by militant Jewish settlers in the West Bank. With the Middle East peace process now stuck in the quagmire, it is important for British legislators — many of whom also visit Israel, on fact-finding missions — to see the situation on the ground for themselves.
[photo: LibDem MP Ed Davey on a CAABU visit to the West Bank]