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The Other Britain Steps in the Right Direction

Fadi Abu Sada – Editor-in-Chief – PNN - After British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s last visit to Palestinian territory and his meetings with local nonviolent activists, we got the chance to meet another member of the British government: Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Foreign Secretary—the member of the opposition party, that is, who “shadows” their counterpart in government and proposes alternatives.

From left: British Consular General Sir Vincent Fean, Ahmed al-'Azza, Shadow Foreign Secretary Yvette Cooper, and Jama'a al-Zawahira.

Cooper met with Palestinians in the villages of al-Ma’sara and Wadi al-Nis in Bethlehem Governorate, saw the Israeli wall, and discussed how Great Britain could pursue better policies in the region. The Labor Party minister said she visited Palestine to coordinate British diplomacy in Jerusalem and see for herself what was happening on the ground.

Cooper met with Ahmed al-‘Azza and Jama’a Zawahira of the Refugees for Nonviolent Popular Resistance and listened them speak to three matters: first, the effect of the wall on local agriculture and the environment; second, the development, successes, and failures of the nonviolent movement; and third, the record of the Israeli military government on human rights.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary asked to walk around in the villages and appeared affected by what she saw. She said she was happy to see the nonviolent movement in place. The British Consul in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, promised to seek support for the movement back home.

Activists thanked Cooper and Fean for the 45-minute visit—Hague’s visit was only 15 minutes—and called the visit a success in forming successful international relationships.

Certainly the visit was a success—but it also represents a shortcoming in that we must convince foreign diplomats that relationships with Palestine do not just entail meeting with nonviolence activists, but with ministers and other points of contact in order to see the reality that is far from the protocol.

We say a special thank you to Mrs. Cooper and also we ask others who think about Palestine to consider visits to all sides of our country, official and unofficial. It is incumbent on them to take the initiative and point us in the right direction, toward the end of this long occupation.