Israel & Palestine Tour
Amid renewed interest in the peace process our Israel and Palestine Tour examines the options for Palestinians and Israelis with Gershon Baksin & Dahlia Scheindlin.
Dates: Sat 9 – Mon 18 Sept, 2017
Single Supplement: £500.00
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process remains one of the most intractable disputes in modern history. However recent events in the middle east, notably the Arab Spring and US relations with Iran have brought the conflict into renewed focus. Our Israel and Palestine Tour looks at the positions of different communities and political groupings on both sides. We examine the remaining obstacles to a two-state solution including the issues of borders and land, Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the status of Jerusalem, Israeli concerns over security and the right of Palestinian refugees to return.
Like all our tours the journey involves meeting with leading political figures and analysts, with briefings over meals. There will be some time off to view some sites. This is a popular tour and spaces are limited to 14 people.
Day One Jerusalem
We meet at 7.00 pm for drinks and dinner in the with an introduction to the tour from Political Tours’ Director Nicholas Wood. This will be followed by a briefing of the upcoming week by your tour leader Gershon Baskin.
Day Two Jerusalem
Gershon Baskin takes us to the Old City, where we discuss Temple Mount and what its significance is today. We meet with Fayrouz Sharqawi an activist with Grassroots Jerusalem for a tour of Arab East Jerusalem and she explains the restraints placed on local Palestinians. After a light lunch we meet with Karen Kaufman of the Quartet. Later we meet with members of the Israel Land Fund, a group that promotes the expansion of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem and beyond. Overnight in East Jerusalem.
Day Three Ramallah
Depart to Ramallah to learn about the Palestinian Authority and see how Israel’s security apparatus works in the region. The morning starts with a visit to the Muqataa compound on the outskirts of the city and visit to Yasser Arafat’s tomb. Followed by lunch and a briefing by members of the PA’s foreign ministry on the peace-negotiations and the PLO’s recent move to the ICC. Dinner with a professor in Birzeit University and discussion on the plight of Palestinian refugees. Overnight in Ramallah.
Day Four Nablus
The morning starts with a visit to the Muqataa compound on the outskirts of the city and visit to Yasser Arafat’s tomb. We then head to Nablus in the north of the West Bank with Riman Barakat. Our first stop is in the centre of the old city to have lunch with a women’s group, Beit Al Karama, which is doing ground breaking work. After lunch we visit Balata refugee camp to meet local families, (situation depending) and discuss the right of return, one of the key stumbling blocks in peace-negotiations. In the afternoon we meet with a prominent Palestinian businessman in his extraordinary home overlooking Nablus. Overnight in Ramallah.
Day Five Bethlehem & Hebron
We head south to Hebron via Wadi Faoqin. Hebron has become one of the most sensitive clash points between Israeli settlers and local Palestinians. Access to the city centre for Palestinians is restricted, and it is home to several settler communities. We learn about its importance to both Islam and Judaism, with a tour from a Palestinian from the area. The situation in Hebron can be volatile and we will assess the situation on the day. We then head to Bethlehem and check into our hotel. There will be an opportunity to visit the Church of the Nativity on Saturday and Sunday. Overnight in Bethlehem.
Day Six Bethlehem, Masada & Settlements
We are joined by our Israeli guide, a former IDF armoured brigade officer. We head south through the West Bank and meet with a range of settler communities. They include outposts established by more radical settlers as well as more established neighbourhoods that have been incorporated into the Jerusalem area. We then circle south and then north again to Masada, a key focal point in Israel’s historical narrative and where all members of the IDF pass out after completing their basic training. Overnight in Bethlehem.
Day Seven Nazareth & Haifa
After several days looking at the West Bank we drive north to the largest Arab city inside Israel. We are joined by Dahlia Scheindlin, our expert for the rest of the tour. Nazareth has both a long history and a densely complex modern existence, shared between Muslim and Christian Palestinians within the city centre and Jewish Israelis in the separate town of Upper Nazareth, or Nazareth Ilit, nearby. We look at tensions between the two. Meeting with Mohammad Zeidan, director of the Arab Association for Human Rights. Possible meeting in the afternoon with Nazareth Ilit, the Israeli municipality to the north of Nazareth, then on to Haifa for dinner with the Mayor of Haifa, Yona Yahav. A former Labour politician, Mr Yahav has traversed the political spectrum, remained in office for many years and helped to transform it into an international centre for business. Overnight in Haifa.
Day Eight Haifa & Tel Aviv
Breakfast with Dahlia Scheindlin, where we will have a newspaper review. Time to explore the local area; possibly visit the Clandestine Migration and Naval Museum, which tells the story of migration to Israel in the 1940s as well as the development of Israel’s navy; or a visit to the Bahai hanging gardens. After Haifa we head to Zirchron Yaakov, one of the earliest 20th century Jewish settlements in Palestine. Here we will be hosted in people’s homes, an opportunity to see how mainstream Israeli’s view the current state of politics and the peace-process. After lunch we proceed down the Mediterranean coast to Israel’s bustling commercial capital Tel Aviv. Dinner in Tel Aviv. Overnight in Tel Aviv.
Day Nine – Tel Aviv
We use this final day to both review the tour and examine the range of political forces within Israel. Tel Aviv is home to some of Israel’s most important political think tanks, academics and human rights groups. Is there any hope of renewed commitment to the peace-process? In the morning we meet with Miri Eisin, a former colonel and intelligence office in the IDF who subsequently became a government spokeswoman. We then join the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) a leading Israeli military and security think tank. In the afternoon we meet with Israeli business leaders and members of Breaking the Impasse, a joint Israeli and Palestinian association supported by the World Economic Forum. Farewell dinner and overnight Tel Aviv.
Day Ten – Tel Aviv
Breakfast and departures for Ben Gurion airport.
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