Twinning Birmingham with Ramallah

A group of Palestians are visiting Birmingham and on the agenda is twinning Birmingham with Ramallah. Birmingham City Council has continued to ignore the plan. When seven City Councillors visited Ramallah in 2004, five of us in the Cabinet, we were told firmly that our trip was not recognised. What would the press make of it? In the event we issued a press statement which was ignored. We were welcomed by both Palestinians and Israelis – by Yasser Arafat in Ramallah and by the Labour group on Tel Aviv Council (including Yael Dayan, daughter of the famous eye-patch wearing General. She was a member of the Green Party, rather more radical than most Labour members, advocating Israel return to the 1967 borders.)
The press were interested in me because I was Cabinet Member for Transportation when Birmingham’s road froze over. I spoke from Jerusalem to them a number of times. Yasser Arafat told us that it was good that we had come, and some young Palestinians offered to come to Birmingham to help deal with the ice.
I have been invited to meetings in Sparkhill and Handsworth areas of Birmingham. I shall report on the Handsworth meeting (see below).

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