Hilary Benn in low-key Israel tour


Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn made a low-profile visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories this week.

Accompanied by a political adviser, he landed at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on Monday morning for the start of the three-day tour.

Mr Benn - who avoided press interviews during the trip - started by travelling to east Jerusalem with the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. On Tuesday, he laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum.

Mr Benn had a series of private meetings with senior Knesset members and Palestinian Authority representatives.

He met PA president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and discussed settlements and a two-state solution.

The front-bencher encouraged Israeli Labour Party colleagues to strengthen their friendship with the UK party.

There was also a session with British Ambassador David Quarrey to discuss diplomatic relations across the Middle East. Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan MP attended some sessions with Mr Benn.

The JC understands the trip was organised at short-notice to fit into Mr Benn's schedule following the Parliamentary vote on air strikes in Syria earlier this month.

It is thought many of his meetings were set up while on the road in Israel, with a late request to see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unable to be scheduled.

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