Ed Miliband and MPs in Labour delegation to Israel

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Israel bound: senior MP Jim Murphy, here with party leader Ed Miliband (Photo: PA)

Israel bound: senior MP Jim Murphy, here with party leader Ed Miliband (Photo: PA)

By Marcus Dysch, JC.com September 24, 2013

Senior Labour shadow cabinet members are due to join the party’s biggest delegation to visit Israel for years.

Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy will lead the group — co-ordinated by Labour Friends of Israel — in meetings with Israel’s defence minister Moshe Ya’alon and other counter-terror experts.

They will discuss the strategic defence relationship between Britain and Israel and study the threats facing Israel and the security situation in the Palestinian territories.

Mr Murphy will be joined by 10 other MPs, peers and political advisers travelling to Tel Aviv on Sunday, including shadow defence minister Gemma Doyle, LFI chair Anne McGuire MP and vice-chair Louise Ellman MP.

Philanthropist Sir David Garrard is hosting the visit, which will see the delegation tour Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Israel’s northern borders, Iron Dome units, Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and the new Palestinian city of Rawabi.

The visit follows a busy Labour party conference for groups linked to Israel and the Palestinians. An LFI panel debate on the two-state solution was due to hear on Tuesday from Labour Knesset member Hilik Bar. Mrs McGuire said it was an “honour” to host Mr Bar. Later the same day, Labour leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander were expected to speak at LFI’s annual conference reception.
A Jewish Labour Movement fringe session on Sunday evening featured speakers including Claude Moraes, one of Britain’s first Asian MEPs.

MP Tristram Hunt introduced survivor Mala Tribich at a session organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

At a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event on Sunday, chairman Hugh Lanning accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” in the settlements. Daily Mirror associate editor Kevin Maguire told the event of his experiences visiting Israel and the West Bank with both the PSC and pro-Israel advocacy group Bicom, which he described as a “very pushy”.

Mr Maguire said the “ferocious pressure” exerted by the Israeli embassy meant journalists were up against a “juggernaut machine” when covering the conflict.

Sussex Friends of Israel group demonstrated outside the PSC session.