Scottish politicians lobby for direct flights to Israel


Scottish politicians have pledged to lobby for direct passenger flights between Scotland and Israel in a bid to strengthen ties between the two countries.

The idea was discussed by a group of Conservative MSPs who visited Israel this week.

John Lamont, chief whip of the Scottish Tory Party, said: “Currently there are no direct flights from Scotland to Israel.

“We strongly believe that the best way of changing views of Israel and challenging the perceptions that people have is by getting as many people to visit this country as possible.”

Mr Lamont was part of a delegation of nine Conservative MSPs who visited Israel this week in what is believed to be the first such trip.

The group toured the country, meeting representatives of the Israel-UK Chamber of Commerce, as well as David Quarrey, the UK’s ambassador to Israel.

They also visited Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli organisation providing pediatric cardiology care to children worldwide.
Mr Lamont said, as a result of the trip, his colleagues had “a much greater understanding and feel for the issues,” surrounding the Middle East conflict.

The trip was arranged by the Conservatives Friends of Israel group, and according to James Gurd, director of the CFI, the trip, reflected a growing sympathy towards Israel north of the border: “For years a vocal minority seen as dominating debate there were very pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli”, Mr Gurd said.

“A lot of people on this trip agree that this has started to change — partly because you have ‘friends of Israel’ groups, many of which are Christian groups, springing up across Scotland.”

As well as raising awareness, the trip had other benefits for the politicians. “It’s a bit hotter here than Scotland,” said Mr Lamont.

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