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Sir Eric Pickles to lead MPs’ delegation to Israel

    Conservative Friends of Israel has announced that its chairman Sir Eric Pickles will lead on a delegation of MPs to Israel.

    The former cabinet minister will lead CFI’s new team of parliamentary officers on the high-profile trip next week.

    The group includes CFI vice-chairmen Guto Bebb, John Howell and Andrew Percy, as well as Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, Chloe Smith and Heather Wheeler.

    CFI said the visit marks the formation of a team who “will serve as Israel’s strongest supporters in Parliament.”

    CFI director Stuart Polak said: “CFI is delighted that our new team of parliamentary officers will be joining us in Israel next week, alongside Sir Eric.

    “The group will hear first-hand about the immense challenges facing Israel along its borders, including Hamas’s rearming in Gaza and the emergence of ISIS in northern Egypt.

    “Israel needs its strongest friends to be up-to-date on these crucial issues going into this new Parliament”.

    The MPs are expected to hold meetings with the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and senior government figures, including Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

    The group is also expected to meet Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, and the co-chairman of the Israel-United Kingdom Parliamentary Friendship Group, Hilik Bar, at the Knesset.

    The delegation will travel to the town of Sderot, on the Gaza border and visit a kibbutz in the area.

    They will also go to the West Bank to hold talks with the mayor of Bethlehem and Palestinian entrepreneurs.

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