Between 19th-25th November 2018, a delegation of British Muslim political figures from the Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF) travelled to Israel and Palestine. Forward Thinking were asked to facilitate a series of political meetings between the group and Israeli and Palestinian officials from across the political spectrum. The aim of the visit was to develop their understanding of the historical and contemporary issues in the conflict.
In a turbulent week in the Knesset, which saw the resignation of the Israeli Defence Minister, Avgidor Lieberman, and early elections avoided, the group met with MKs and party officials from Likud, Shas, the Joint List and the Labor party. Discussions explored the political priorities and visions for the future for each party for example, the role of religion within the Israeli state, the challenges facing Palestinian citizens in Israel, the trends within the left and trends on the right of Israeli politics. The group also travelled to Lower Galilee to meet municipal leaders and explore examples of Jewish, Muslim and Christian coexistence in Israel at the level of civil society.
In the West Bank, the group met with senior officials from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron. Discussions explored the challenges facing intra-Palestinian reconciliation between political factions in the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian education system, in addition to the impact of occupation. The group also met with David Quarrey, British Ambassador to Israel, and Philip Hall, the British Consul General to Jerusalem, in order to understand the role of Britain in the region.
The meetings helped to provide a snapshot of the current political realities facing both sides. Several areas for practical follow up and further dialogue were highlighted by the group, which we will seek to help develop upon their return.