16th – 20th September.
From East Jerusalem to Ramallah, to Hebron and Tel Aviv, the ‘Promised Land’ is not at peace with itself. This trip took place in the run up to the UN bid by President Abbas for Palestinian Statehood to be recognised, so it was a fascinating time to be there. The extent of the settlements in the West Bank is astonishing (about half a million Jews live beyond the 1967 cease fire line), and a viable Palestinian state is hard to imagine with these facts on the ground.
The Palestinian business people, who are being assisted by Dfid, were dogged in their determination to continue, despite the many barriers to enterprise that living under occupation brings. Many pressure groups and NGOs are working hard to bring the instances of injustice to the attention of the outside world. As a former barrister, Baroness Berridge found the evidence from Defence for Children International (www.dci-pal.org) of the treatment of Palestinian children very disturbing.
“I came home very troubled by much of what I saw and heard. I am strongly pro-justice, so I totally support the right of Israelis to live in peace, but the Palestinians are suffering grave injustices after over 40 years of occupation. As a disparate people, many of whom are refugees in neighbouring nations, the Palestinians lack the tools of a nation state that can thereby secure justice and peace for their people.”