Monday, 9 February 2009


A hostile writer hiding behind a nom de plume attacks me in a local paper. Why am I not concentrating on my region? "Is Chris Davies the MEP for the North West or the MEP for the Middle East?"

I could respond by saying that it's not my fault. I never intended to get involved in an issue which commands such attention or which I find so emotionally draining.

Every MEP serves on one delegation that meets at least annually with legislators from a country or region outside the EU. In the last parliament I served on the Cyprus one, which was not without interest given the political divisions of the island. But then Cyprus, or at least the Greek Cypriot administration, joined the EU so the delegation was wound up.

Environmental legislation occupies so much of my time that I opted for an easy life at the beginning of this parliament, seeking a delegation that would involve only one overseas visit every two years. First choice was Australia, but it was fully booked. Second choice was Canada, but that was the same.

So I ended up with my third choice, Palestine, but intended to be involved only to the minimum extent. Then I paid my first visit to the place to be present at the launch of a movement called Combatants for Peace, bringing together former Palestinian fighters and Israeli Defence Force soldiers seeking a better way forward. I returned seething with anger at the injustice I saw, and the way in which Israel has changed the facts on the ground to make the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state almost impossible.

I shouldn't have to apologise for my interest. It was not for nothing that the Palestinian president was on Barack Obama's list of first calls to foreign leaders. Palestine arises passions that affect the security of us all.

That won't convince my letter-writing critic though. And I'm about to upset him even more.

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