A delegation of senior Israel Police officers traveled Sunday to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where they will attend a study mission to learn "fair policing" models towards minorities.
The delegation, which includes nine police lieutenant-commanders, was sent to Belfast under a joint project by the Israel Police and the Abraham Fund Initiatives.
Amnon Be'eri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday the trip is part of an effort to repair the strained relationship between the Israel Police and the Israeli-Arab community, which he said typically views the police as a security organization, and not a body that serves their community.
"We want the Israel Police to be seen as part of the civil service for all sectors of Israeli society," Be'eri-Sulitzeanu said, adding that he believes that the Israel Police has made great efforts to improve its relations with the Arab sector, more than any other government body.
Be'eri-Sulitzeanu said the organization chose Belfast because local police in Northern Ireland have successfully implemented models of "fair policing" since the Good Friday agreement went into effect 10 years ago.
Be'eri-Sulitzeanu said Northern Ireland's experience of having a predominantly Protestant police force patroling Catholic areas provided a good model for what could be implemented in Israel, though he was quick to say that the Northern Ireland conflict can't be closely compared to the conflict between Jews and Arabs here.
He added that the Northern Ireland police force's successful enlistment and recruitment of Catholics provides a model for what could be done in Israel.
The Abraham Fund Initiatives was founded in 1989 to foster better relations and equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel. In 2002, after the Orr commission published its report on the October 2000 riots, in which 13 Arabs were killed in clashes with Israeli police, the Abraham Fund founded the Police Relations Initiative, in order to rebuild the ties between the Arab sector and the police.
The initiative sought to improve the situation by helping police implement a "culturally-sensitive" and equitable approach towards Israel Arabs. In 2004, the Israel Police made the Abraham Fund its official educator on matters relating to democracy, civil rights, and egalitarian service in a multicultural, democratic society.
Amichai Shai, head of the Israel Police's human resources division said the Belfast trip was an important step in improving police performance.
"These are part of our benchmarking, our very important efforts to learn how things are done elsewhere, especially in a country where they have a peace agreement, but tensions could still explode at any time," Shai said.
"We feel we can gain insight from this trip," Shai added.