In the wake of increasing calls for the boycott of products made in Judea and Samaria by European Union legislators, one senior EU politician - Yves Nidegger - a member of the Swiss Parliament – decided to examine the situation up close. Along with his wife, Maria, Nidegger on Wednesday visited numerous Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Hosted by the Samaria Liaison Office's David Ha'ivri, the group started out with a tour of the University of Ariel. They were surprised to learn that over 85% of the 14,000 students bus in every day from “Israel proper” to the University in Samaria, because the school's dorms only have room for 2,000 students. At the university, they met with Dr. Ron Schlifer and heard about the school's development plans that project growth to 20,000 students by the year 2020.
They were pleased to taste the award winning wines produced by the Tura Winery in Rechelim, and to meet with owner Vered Ben Saadon, who shared her story of the amazing journey that led her and her husband Erez to become wine farmers on the mountains of Shomron.
Later on, they visited the vineyards on Mount Gerizim and looked down on Joseph's Tomb in the city known as Shechem to the Jews and Nablus to the Arabs. They were shocked to learn that the Oslo accords have resulted in the city becoming off-limits to Jews, which has effectively cut them off from access to Joseph's tomb.
Before they left the region, they met with Israel public diplomacy executive Shay Atias, who explained the new strategy of the Shomron leadership, which is aimed at revealing the facts on the ground to the international community and promoting person to person diplomacy. MP Yves Nidegger left with a promise to advise his colleagues to come and see this for themselves. The next delegation visits are already in the works.