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Labour and Lib Dems in Israel visits

    Delegations of senior party officials from both Liberal Democrat and Labour parties have returned from trips to Israel.

    Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes led an 11-strong group on a visit organised by the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel. The group went to the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and also held meetings with Palestinian groups in Ramallah.

    Mr Hughes said the visit had given him “a unique and insightful perspective. Israel’s right to exist within secure borders must never be called into question or compromised, but the Palestinians also deserve their own sovereign nation unencumbered by external forces.”

    He promised that the party would support the current peace talks.

    LDFI chairman Gavin Stollar said that the delegates had concluded that a boycott of Israel was not a suitable response to the political situation.

    The Labour visit, co-ordinated by Labour Friends of Israel, was led by Jim Murphy, who this week departed his job as Shadow Defence Secretary in Ed Miliband’s reshuffle.

    The 10 delegates held talks with Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon and experts at Herzilya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

    Mr Murphy said there was hope among Israelis and Palestinians that the current peace talks would lead to “something meaningful”. But he added Israel was increasingly concerned with the terror threat “on most, if not all of its borders”, and with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

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