Report of the May 2016 Exchange Visit to Palestine by the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs

1.0 Introduction
1.1 The Exchange Visit to Palestine was undertaken from 15 – 20 May 2016. The invitation for an Exchange Visit was made by the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC)

1.2 Hon. Kindness Paradza, as the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, led the delegation. He was accompanied by the following Members and Officer of Parliament:-
-Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi - Mushonga, Member of Parliament;
-Hon. Reuben Marumahoko, Member of Parliament;
-Mr. Shepherd Manhivi, Committee Clerk and Secretary to the Delegation.

1.3 The objective of the visit was for the Parliament of Zimbabwe to ascertain, first-hand, the 68-year-old conflict that exist between Palestine and Israel. This would help shape Zimbabwe’s Foreign Policy on the conflict and provide clear lobbying and advocacy strategies for Zimbabwe in its engagement with other SADC and African countries, especially given that most Africans do not seem to have a consistent and united strong voice in support of Palestine.

1.4 The delegation was grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Palestinian President, His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, Senior Government Officials and a number of Palestinian Parliamentarians during the course of its visit. The delegation left the region with a much greater understanding of the issues confronting the Palestinian people.

1.5 At the week-long visit, the following programs took place:
-Courtesy call on H. E President Mahmoud Abbas
-Meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tayseer Jaradat
-Meeting with the Head of the Commission for the Resistance of Settlement and Segregation wall, Mr Walid Assaf -Meeting with members of the Legislative Council, Hon. Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, Hon Jamal Abu Alrub, Hon Ala yaghi, and Hon Jamal Hwail
-Meeting with the Minister of Prisons Affairs, Mr Essa Qaraqe and Ms Sahar Fransis from the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
-Meeting with the Office of the United Nations Co-ordinator for Human Rights (OCHA), Ms Catherine Cook (Head Advocacy and Communications)
-Meeting with members of the Islamic Christian Commission for the defence of holy sites, Dr Essa Hanna, Father Manuel Musallam and Mr Azzam Al Ahmad
-Meeting with the Governor of Hebron, Mr Kamel Hameid
-Tour of Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, Qalqilia Cities
-Visit to holy sites, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church or Resurrection in Jerusalem
-Visit to the Tomb of the late President Yasser Arafat

1.6 The delegation would wish to record its gratitude to the Administration of Parliament of Zimbabwe who liaised with the Palestinian Legislative Council on the organisation of all the logistics associated with the visit. The delegation also wishes to express its thanks to the Palestinian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E Taghrid Senouar for the assistance she rendered in the preparation of our visit.

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