Seven Conservative MPs elected in 2019 joined CFI on a delegation to Israel and the Palestinian Authority last month, which included a visit to see the Iron Dome missile defence system on the Gaza border.
Delegates included Ruth Edwards MP, Antony Higginbotham MP, Anthony Browne MP, Mark Jenkinson MP, Alexander Stafford MP, Shaun Bailey MP, Holly Mumby-Croft MP, and CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE.
Ruth Edwards MP, in a piece for Jewish News following the visit, asserted: “It is palpably clear that Israelis of all walks of life genuinely value the UK’s friendship…We are living in a golden era of relations between our two countries…with the UK now considered as one of Israel’s most trusted and valued allies in the world”.
The itinerary featured a briefing by the IDF at the ‘Canopy of Fire’ command centre from which it coordinates its military activities during periods of conflict with Gaza-based terror groups. The group also received high-level meetings with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll and Palestinian Authority Minister of Social Affairs Dr Ahmed Majdalani.
At IDF’s ‘Canopy of Fire’ command and operations centre, the group received a briefing on security threats coming from Gaza. Ruth Edwards MP recalled: “The range of threats was made horrifyingly clear…Footage showed everything from a neutralised cross-border terror tunnel, UAVs dropping explosives on Israeli military vehicles, and even a Russian-made anti-tank missile hitting a civilian bus”. She added: “And yet, despite all the unenviable security challenges, Israelis have adapted. The Gaza border area is thriving. We learned that the population of Sderot – a city lined with bomb shelters at every turn – and the wider southern region, is one of the fastest growing in the country”.
Afterwards, the group viewed an Iron Dome battery – Israel’s high-tech missile defence system which has a 95% success rate of intercepting terrorist rocket fire.
The group visited the Israeli NGO Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) in Holon, where they met children from developing countries receiving life-saving heart surgery from Israeli doctors, free of charge. Around half of over 6,000 children who have received the life-saving treatment are Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank. The delegates also spoke to a doctor from Gaza working with SACH to coordinate the medical treatment in Israel of children from Gaza.
The parliamentarians learned about the Start-Up Nation and Israel’s deepening trade ties in the UK, during visits to health-tech company Healthy.io and Watergen – a groundbreaking Israeli company that produces water from the atmosphere. Alexander Stafford MP said of the experience: “What I’ve really found about the trip here is the future of Israel, the tech start-ups, the solutions they’re answering to what we have in England and I think England can learn from the Israeli attitude of get up and go, technological advancement, and what they can give to the rest of the world to make our world better and help our shared problems”.
The delegation travelled to the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday and met with Palestinian Authority Minister of Social Affairs, Dr Ahmed Majdalani. They also met with several Palestinian entrepreneurs and businesspeople, as well as renowned Palestinian pollster Dr Khalil Shikaki, to learn more about the political opinions and beliefs of Palestinian society.
On the final day, MPs met with the Legal Adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Tal Becker and were briefed by Israeli polling expert Prof. Reuven Hazan. They then visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and paid their respects to the victims of the Holocaust. Mark Jenkinson MP reflected on “an incredibly moving visit to Yad Vashem that reminds us we must never forget, it must never happen again”.