Husam Zomlot from the Palestinian Delegation, “Town twinning is one of the most practical form of solidarity. It transforms solidarity to friendship and transcends beyond verbal support, reaching out for the other community with a sense of shared destiny”
In the words of Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, "Londoners can benefit enormously from personal links with people of other cities round the world and I hope will be enriched by the experience of closer contacts with the people of the towns and cities of Palestine. I hope these friendships help create a better understanding of the issues of peace and justice in Palestine that are important for so many communities in London and for all those who believe that justice is the key to lasting peace in the world”..
In October 2004, a workshop on Twinning with Palestine at the European Friendship Forum brought together a number of different groups who were working on some sort of twinning project with Palestine, and people from Palestine who commented on the usefulness of this sort of project. They asked for some sort of co-ordination so that there was not repetition and that villages and refugee camps as well as the main towns could find friends and supporters in Britain.
In September 2005, the Twinning with Palestine conference in Camden brought together representatives of nearly 20 groups across Britain who were at some stage of making friendship links. This included towns with established twinning links, groups who had well-established informal friendship links with towns, villages and refugee camps, and others who were at the initial stage in making links. Palestinian visitors again told us how useful this sort of initiative was, and following useful discussion in workshops about twinning work in Britain and twinning work in Palestine, it was agreed that a small group would meet to organise a website and a new meeting for one person from each twinning group, with a view to setting up a network.
The working title for this network would be the Britain - Palestine Twinning Network.
This network is not to replace or compete with other Palestinian solidarity movements. It is specifically to help groups make friendship links with Palestinian communities. Twinning whether it be formal or informal includes a focus on grassroots links. The network aims to promote the development of twinning links, helping groups to find partners and avoid duplication; and to encourage groups to help each other through the sharing of experience and information.
Twinning is an active method to generate interest and promote awareness of issues faced in Palestine. Issues that have a very real and ongoing connection to those in Britain
Twinning engages with the effects of the Israeli occupation and helps us learn about the human cost. Effects such as;
The objectives of forging twinning links with towns in the West Bank and Gaza, which are occupied/controlled by Israel, extend well beyond simple friendship, although that is very important. These links;
Visits and exchanges educate people in the UK about what ís actually going on in Palestine. This is not about fundraising and campaiging.
Twinning is about tangible and lasting links.
Whether informal twinning or friendship links, or formal town-town and institution to institution ones, many links have been set up between Britain and Palestine. The Britain Palestine Twinning Network (BPTN) helps foster cooperation and information exchange between these groups. With over 30 member twinning and friendship groups we have helped develop highly valued exchanges between universities, churches, schools, scout and guide groups and individuals. We are always actively looking for more British twinning partners and ways to build friendships.