As part of Julie’s work on human rights, reconciliation and peace building, she has become engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The war in Gaza in the summer of 2014 flared up just as new MEPs came into office. Soon, Julie was meeting with constituents across the North West of England who were concerned by the conflict, as well as the tensions created within their own communities.
Given Julie’s experience in the field of inter-cultural bridge-building in conflict resolution, in different areas as in Ukraine and Bosnia, it made sense to engage with grassroots Palestinian and Israeli civil society that aim to build peace through dialogue.
It is important to put out a clear political call for a two-state solution and for an end to the occupation, with peace, justice, and reconciliation for both sides, given their historical narratives. It is equally important to foster and listen to alternative voices on both sides, and facilitate opportunities for dialogue, which humanise one side to the other. After years of stalemate have exacerbated mutual suspicion and mistrust, there is still a space for people to people contact, which challenges and opposes the occupation, and yet fosters peaceful recognition between the sides.
Julie has engaged with a variety of NGOs, including the Bereaved Families Forum, Breaking the Silence, and EcoPeace. In her work in the European Parliament she has raised the issue of human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, and the role of the EU in promoting a negotiated peace.
Julie was also involved in the organisation of a Labour Party women’s trip to Palestine, which included meetings with civil society and political leaders promoting women’s rights and gender equality within the context of the conflict.