Lib Dem leader ‘better equipped’ to understand impact of Oct 7 after visiting Israel

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Lib Dem leader ‘better equipped’ to understand impact of Oct 7 after visiting Israel

Sir Ed Davey was accompanied on a visit to Israel by Gavin Stoller, director of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel organisation

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Ed Davey visits Hostage HQ
Ed Davey visits Hostage HQ

Sir Ed Davey returned from a visit to Israel last week to witness for himself the impact of the October 7th Hamas terror attacks “better equipped to grasp the gravity of what has happened”, honorary chair of the Liberal Democrats Friends of Israel organisation has said.

The Liberal Democrat leader was accompanied on an intensive two-day visit to the region by LDFI’s Gavin Stollar, including meeting with former Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid, visiting Yad Vashem and viewing the devastating impact of the Hamas massacre on Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

He also went to east Jerusalem, visiting a hospital there , and speaking with NGOs there working to support civil society in the Palestinian territories.

Davey was the first sitting Lib Dem leader to visit Israel since 1988, when the party was formed. 

He wrote on X/Twitter:”The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is deepening, with thousands dead and over 1.5m people displaced.

“And the hostage crisis following the 7 October terrorist attacks by Hamas continues.

“This week, I travelled to the region to meet those directly affected by the conflict.”

During the visit Davey added:”Too many lives have been ruined or lost. We must find a route to peace.

“Liberal Democrats call for an immediate bilateral ceasefire to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, return the hostages, and pave the way for a two-state solution.”

Ahead of his meeting with ex-PM Lapid, Davey met with Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu, one of Yesh Atid’s MKs.

“The meeting was warm and friendly,” Stollar said. “But tinged with political realism. Yorai, a self-stated peacenik his whole life has been left shaken about the prospects to finding a way back to a meaningful peace process.”

During the meeting with Lapid, a discussion around what both he and his UK counterpart could do to support Israel and to create conditions for peace and a two-state solution was described by Stollar as “special.”

The visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza to see first hand the impact of October 7th, clearly affected Davey.  The stories residents told of the attack “were beyond comprehension,” Stollar said.

In Tel Aviv, there was a visit to Hostage HQ, where ex-diplomats and politicians were among the volunteers managing the many dignitaries arriving to offer support and assistance.

“We were introduced to Itzik Horn, the father of two brothers Eitan and Yair  Horn,” said Stollar.

Later Davey met with the UK ambassador to Israel Simon Walters at his residence.

During his visit to East Jerusalem, Davey wrote:”At the Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, I spoke with hospital administrators who told me that the hospital is struggling financially after Israel withheld funding from the Palestinian Authority last year.”

On his return Davey spoken openly of his fear that the two-state solution was in danger of collapsing.

He also said the UK should impose sanctions on two far-right Israeli ministers who have pushed for more settlements on Palestinian land –  Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister.

But Stollar said:”My take is that Sir Ed Davey has now grasped the gravity of what has happened and is now better equipped to represent a fair Liberal Zionist two state agenda.”

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