Eighteen Israeli police commanders have been in Belfast this week observing how the Royal Ulster Constabulary keeps the peace and the lessons it holds for policing in Israel.
The officers were visiting under the aegis of the Abraham Fund, advancing co-existence and equality among Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens, which launched a UK Friends group at a reception at London’s Reform Club on Monday.
Amnon Be’eri Sulitzeanu — who came over for the launch with his co-director Mohammad Darawshe — told the JC on Wednesday that the aim of the police visit was to demonstrate law enforcement in centres of religious conflict. The Israelis also met Stormont politicians.
“We are trying to introduce Israeli police and decision-makers to these models so that police can provide equal services to Israel’s Arab population,” Mr Be’eri Sulitzeanu said.
Former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard was among the 200-strong crowd from across the religious spectrum at the Friends’ reception. He said that “one day there will be two states living side-by-side. And one day there will be compromises on the right of return and the status of Jerusalem.
“It’s the lack of trust on both sides that is preventing this, and the fears of both sides. One way is to prove that Jews and Arabs can work and play together. That’s what the Abraham Fund is all about.”
UK Friends chair Laurie Kaye told the JC that approaches were being made to potential donors and grant-making institutions “who share our belief that this is a win-win situation”.
The intention is to stage high profile discussion events involving all interested sections of the community and to organise trips by Jews and Muslims to Israel to see the fund’s work on the ground.