Jerusalem, Israel - Oct. 19, 2016 - During Sukkos, the 5th annual Israel Allies Foundation Jerusalem Chairman’s Conference is taking place in Jerusalem, Israel at The Mamilla Hotel. Twenty members of parliament from countries throughout Europe, Africa and Latin America are in attendance. The Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) is an umbrella organization that coordinates the activities of 35 pro-Israel caucuses in parliaments throughout the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia.
The international lawmakers serve as Chairs of the Israel Allies Caucus in their local parliaments. In order to gain a better understanding about the history of Jerusalem, in 5777, the 50th year of reunification, the delegates took a geopolitical tour of Jerusalem to visit Kalandia check post, Tomb of Samuel lookout point, Tel El Ful, and Mount Scopes.
The influential delegation also toured Hevron, a first for visiting lawmakers. Dignitaries are often hosted in Gush Etzion and Judea and Samaria, but never before has such a group visited Hevron. Extra special was the visit coming during Sukkos, when Maras HaMachpala, Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, was for Jewish prayer only. Today was one of ten days per year, when no Muslim prayers were allowed inside.
Members of Parliament attending the conference include: MEP Bas Belder, who serves as the Chairman of the Israel Allies Caucus in the European Parliament. MEP Belder is also The Vice-Chairman of the delegation for the relations between the European Parliament and Israel; Italian Senator Lucio Malan, who earlier this year passed a bill prohibiting Holocaust denial; MP Kees van der Staaij who passed a bill in The Netherlands preventing the funding of BDS organizations; MP Kenneth Meshoe from South Africa who strongly opposes the claim that Israel is an apartheid state; and Minister Ruperto Long of Uruguay. There are also MPs from Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, and Malawi.
The IAF Jerusalem Chairman’s Conference is sponsored by the World Jewish Congress and The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, besides Hevron spokesperson, Yishai Fleisher, and Noam Arnon, the delegation met with Mayor of Efrat Oded Revivi who told of improving relations with his Arab neighbors.
Coming days after the UNESCO vote against Israel, "a vote against the Bible," said Arnon, the enthusiasm of the delegates was appreciated by Israelis who stopped to speak with the visitors.
Director of External Affairs, of YESHA, the Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, former Marylander, Elie Pieprz, summed up the significance of the IAF meetings is a special video message for BJL.
"Europe is changing," Europeans are beginning to appreciate how Israelis have suffered from terror attacks. Today, on Sukkos, a lawmaker from Malawi joined Jewish men and boys dancing near the tombs of Jewish forefathers. "Building bridges, not fences," Revivi's believes, one step at a time, to work on fixing a complex situation.
Thursday the delegation is to hear from influential Israeli political figures Dore Gold and Gideon Saar. At night at the Pais Arena stadium in Jerusalem, the delegation will join 5,000 international Christian supporters of Israel, where World Jewish Congress President Ambassador Ronald Lauder will speak.