It's not in my nature to duck the big challenges. So when I was asked recently to join a small delegation led by Dame Tessa Jowell MP to Israel and Palestine, I said ‘yes’.
I leave in ten days and will spend time in both Israel and Palestine with equal access to high-ranking officials and ministers from both territories. I will visit some of the most challenging and contested areas in order to see the situation first hand.
Issues surrounding the conflict arouse strong emotions for supporters on both sides of this dispute, and among people who are not partisan but simply horrified by the humanitarian catastrophe that has arisen in the region.
I want to represent your views as best I can and use the access I will have to senior people on both sides to put your questions, comments, or concerns directly to them. Please let me have your thoughts or questions via email. I also know that many of you are extremely well read in this area too. If there are articles or books you would like me to read before and during the trip, please send me links or references.
I have also made contact with local rabbis and our Imam and will be learning from their insight before I leave.
Many of you know that I used to be an aid worker so have experience of conflict situations. However I do not underestimate the challenges of the places I will visit, caused by the complex mix of history, politics, religion, and conflict.
I know that a political candidate from Hove will not solve these momentous challenges. But if I am able to represent some of your views directly to people on both sides and learn about life in both of the territories affected, then my time will be well spent and it will make me a better advocate for residents of Hove and Portslade. I will, of course, report back on the visit.
All the best, Peter