Blog Post 2 - EU Diplomats and Members of the European Parliament

November 2nd, 2017

Today, the group left Tel Aviv and headed straight to Ramallah to meet with Nabil Shaath, a foreign policy advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. One of the main topics of the discussion was whether the recent unity government between Hamas and Fatah would be more successful than previous failed attempts.

From Ramallah, the group proceeded to Jerusalem for discussions in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) The first meeting was with Roy Folkman from the governing Kulanu Party. Folkman explained that his party’s focus is social and economic reform, particularly breaking the monopoly powers in some of the Israeli sectors, as well as pushing for economic integration of two groups underrepresented in the Israeli labor market: Orthodox Jewish men and Arab women.

Next was a meeting with Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid from Yesh Atid. He started his presentation with an overview of the false distinction between the so-called political and military wings of Hezbollah and the need to list the entire group as a terror organization.

Much of the rest of the discussion centered on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. A solid majority of Israel, including Lapid himself, supports a two state solution, the lawmaker told the group. But a precondition for solving the conflict is for the PA to take responsibility for state building instead of continuing to play the role role of victim.

After meetings in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the group headed to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial. The intense and emotional visit left a deep impression on the participants. One delegate remarked how extraordinary it is that after such a horrific experience, the Jews had the strength to build the modern State of Israel and how profound the experience of the Holocaust is for the State’s ethos: to rely only on themselves. Others promised to come back with their children.

Ultimately, one delegate concluded, Israel is so much more than the conflict. The participant noted that it is so important to present the country’s many interesting aspects, from internal societal trends to economics and innovation.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Project Interchange.