My visit to Israel and Palestine

29 Feb 2024
Two photos: On left, Ed Davey looks at posters showing people taken hostage by Hamas on 7 October 2023. On right, a photo of a fence with Jerusalem in the background.

We’ve all been appalled by the shocking and tragic events in the Middle East over the past few months. 

There is a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, and it is only growing. Thousands of innocent Palestinians have been killed and around 1.5 million have been displaced to Rafah where they are fearing for their lives, as the prospect of an IDF offensive looms. 

The appalling hostage situation continues - with more than 100 people still held by Hamas following the utterly deplorable terrorist attacks carried out by the group on 7 October. 

Liberal Democrats have been calling for an immediate bilateral ceasefire for months - to put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, get the hostages home, and finally deliver a path to the two state solution.

The impact of this conflict has been felt deeply not just across the region, but in the UK too, in particular the Jewish, Palestinian and Muslim communities. 

Since 7 October, I, Layla Moran and Christine Jardine have met with many impacted groups - such as those working to combat soaring antisemitism and Islamophobia, NGOs working in Gaza, and families whose loved ones are being held hostage by Hamas.

But as the devastation from the conflict only continues to mount, I felt that it was necessary to visit the region myself - to meet people in Israel and Palestine whose lives have been turned upside down by the conflict, and speak to politicians and civil society about how to secure two states and a lasting peace. 

I have just returned from my visit to Israel and Palestine. Here’s what I saw, heard and learnt on the trip:

Ed Davey speaks to a woman in uniform, in the background is a burnt-out house at the Kfar Aza kibbutz which was attacked by Hamas on 7 October 2023

I saw the bullet hole-ridden, blown-out houses of the Kfar Aza kibbutz, one of the many places attacked by Hamas on 7 October, and a place where many peace activists had lived.

I also travelled to the site of the music festival at Re’im where over 300 people were tragically murdered, and where many are now paying their respects to friends and relatives.

Ed Davey listens to two men at the Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem

At the Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, I met six-month old triplets whose mother is stuck in Gaza and cannot get a permit to travel to Jerusalem to be with her children.

I spoke with hospital administrators who told me that the hospital is struggling financially after Israel withheld funding from the Palestinian Authority last year.

An visibly upset elderly man wearing a black hoody with photos of his two sons on the front, his sons were  kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October 2023. Next to him sits Ed Davey, holding his head with one hand while listening to the man. The wall behind the two men shows posters of other hostages.

Itzik Horn’s sons Eitan and Yair were taken hostage by Hamas on 7 October.

He described to me the anguish he is living with, not being able to know exactly where his sons are and in what condition they’re in.

Meeting with Palestinian NGOs working on the ground in Gaza, they explained how what was already a humanitarian crisis in the Strip before October has now become catastrophic. They also spoke about how the West Bank now faces an unprecedented situation, with settler violence spiking.

At the Knesset - the Israeli Parliament - I held a constructive meeting with Yair Lapid, leader of our liberal sister party in Israel as well as Leader of the Opposition to Netanyahu’s government, and discussed the importance of removing Netanyahu from power - both for Israelis and Palestinians.

Ed Davey stands with his hands clasped in front of his body having lain a wreath at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial

Visiting Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, I laid a wreath on behalf of our party in memory of the millions of Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

Ed Davey stands in front of security fencing in East Jerusalem

I learned about the impact of illegal settlement expansion on Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, which is making two-states ever harder to achieve.

Ed Davey is shown a map of Gaza in the offices of the UNOCHA

The United Nations Humanitarian Agency, UNOCHA, explained to me their assessment of the dire crisis facing Palestinians if the IDF commences an offensive in Rafah.

It’s very clear that both Israelis and Palestinians are suffering deep and ongoing trauma from the 7 October attacks and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In an environment of such grief and loss, it would be easy to write off the prospects of a future peace. But my belief that we cannot go back to the way things were before - that a two-state solution is the only way to ensure nothing like this happens again - has only been strengthened. 

It’s also apparent that the illegal Israeli settler movement is having a very negative impact on the ground in the West Bank, actively working to prevent a future two state solution. Settler violence against Palestinians has spiked since October 7 and is having a destabilising effect right now in the West Bank - which is a tinderbox. The settlements are a breach of international law.

Since my return, I have called for the far-right Israeli ministers and extremist leaders of the illegal settlement movement, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, to be sanctioned by the UK.

It's also clear to me that the international community needs to do more to pursue those leaders of Hamas behind the October 7 attacks. I've written to the Foreign Secretary, asking him to make the case to the ICC to issue international arrest warrants against these individuals.

You can read more here.


A row of British parliamentarians on a cross-party visit to the Middle East. On the right is Jeremy Purvis, fourth from left is Layla Moran.

Our Foreign Affairs spokespersons Layla Moran and Lord Purvis also both recently visited the region. You can learn more about their visit here and here.

Liberal Democrats will continue to stand up for international law and for a lasting peace. It is the only way to secure the dignity and security that Israelis and Palestinians deserve, ensuring that the events we have seen these past few months never happen again.




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