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14 Member Brighton Delegation Arrives in Palestine

Brighton Tubas Friendship Group arrives in Palestine

5 April 2007

Fourteen volunteers from Brighton Tubas Friendship Group arrived in the Israeli Occupied Palestinian Territories on April 5th for a 10 day cultural exchange and fact finding tour.

Lasting links will be made between Brighton and Tubas region in Palestine. The delegation includes students from Sussex University and Brighton Quakers. They will visit Tubas Women’s Group, the medical centre, local farmer’s cooperatives, a youth group and schools – bringing letters and donations from children at the Supplementary Arabic School in Brighton.

The students from both countries will discuss their proposal to twin Sussex University Students Union with the Al-Quds Open University in Tubas. This initiative was inspired by the Nelson Mandela Scholarship and an understanding of the difficulties that Palestinian students have in accessing higher education.

Spokesperson for the delegation, Sarah Cobham said: “When we returned to Brighton last year, after visiting Tubas, we were determined to make sure that the voices of ordinary Palestinians are heard. Support in Brighton has been overwhelming and we are delighted to be returning with donations of computer equipment for schools and the local community.”

The group will be staying with local families in Tubas town and the Jordan Valley. They will witness the pressures of life under Israeli military occupation and discuss the possibilities of fairly trading their products, such as soap, pickles, honey and handicrafts in Brighton.
Tubas region is approximately 24km across and 28km north to south. It spreads from Tubas town, in the northern hills of the Israeli occupied West Bank, over to the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley.

Traditionally most of the people are farmers, travelling from the town to their land in the Jordan Valley. However, 95% of the land and 98% of the water in the Jordan Valley has been taken illegally from the Palestinians since 1967 and is now controlled by the Israeli Army and Israeli settlers. Palestinians struggling to survive often have no choice but to work in the Israeli settlements.

In Palestinian villages the people have lost nearly all their land and many have had their houses demolished. There is very little health care, education is limited, there are no phone lines or public transport, often there is no electricity, and much of the water supply is contaminated by waste from Israeli settlements.

The Jordan Valley can only be accessed from Tubas via Israeli Army checkpoints, which Palestinians cannot go through unless they have a Jordan Valley ID (which are only issued to existing residents of the Valley) – a situation reminiscent of the apartheid South African pass laws.

Israel’s clear intention is total annexation of the entire Jordan Valley. It is urgent that people know about this and act to prevent it.

On returning they will hold a photographic exhibition and give eye witness accounts at a public meeting at the Friends Meeting House, Ship Street on 3rd May at 7:30 pm. They will also meet with other local people and groups that have supported this initiative including Brighton Amnesty International and Brighton and Hove City Council Unison branch.

Mark Simons, who arrived in Palestine this morning, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us to meet Palestinian people and see for ourselves the effect of Israel’s illegal occupation on all aspects of their daily lives. I have no doubt that I will return to Brighton far better informed and with many new friends.”

Photos and video provided upon request.

For more info, contact:
Peter Jackson, 0526335750
Polly Wingfield, 0525029691
ISM Media Office, 0599943157