Six councillors from Newcastle have journeyed to Palestine to see first hand the lives of families living in the West Bank and Gaza.
Labour’s David Stockdale, Marion Talbot, Jane Streather, Anne Schofield, Linda Hobson and Nigel Todd flew to the Middle East for a four-day tour centred around the cities of Ramallah and Jerusalem.
While there they visited the Ibrahimi Mosque, the Al Almari refugee camp, Bethlehem’s Church of the Holy Nativity and a Bedouin community, as well as meeting with members of Fatah - Labour’s sister party in Palestine.
“It was life changing,” said Coun Stockdale, who represents Blakelaw and is deputy cabinet member for public health, culture, leisure and libraries.
“The experience had far more of a deep and profound effect than I expected. It was an emotionally draining four days.”
The trip was organised by not-for-profit group Labour2Palestine, with each of the councillors paying their own money to make the trip.
During the visit, Coun Stockdale said he was “deeply saddened” by what he had seen of life in the West Bank.
“It’s tragic what’s happening to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank,” he said.
While they were there councillors also met with the mayor of Hebron, Dr Daoud Zatari, who told them about the difficulties he faces maintaining a clean water supply for the thousnads of people who live in the city.
Dr Zatari called for greater links between his town and Newcastle, and held talks about exchanging expertise and working together on “joint projects.”