During the parliamentary recess, I had the pleasure of leading a cross-party group of MSPs on a delegation to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

As a representative of Eastwood, with Scotland’s highest Jewish population, I had always intended to visit democratic Israel – and convening the Cross-Party Group on Building Bridges with Israel allowed that, with MSP colleagues from the SNP, Scottish Labour and fellow Scottish Conservatives.

The importance of Israel to Eastwood could not have been better highlighted than by hearing the Scottish voice of a constituent when visiting the ‘Save a Child’s Heart’ organisation.

“You’re my MSP, you’re Jackson Carlaw,” she said.

The delegation was substantive and intense in all the meetings that we had.

We took in all of Israeli and Palestinian society and I was especially heartened by the conversations we had with many young men and women who reiterated that they were committed to peace.

There was also a feeling from many younger Palestinians that their leadership is old and weak and many young people are leaving for other Gulf States and even the United Kingdom.

Save a Child’s Heart provides lifesaving heart surgery and follow-up care to children from developing countries, regardless of their nationality, creed or ability to pay.

The lifesaving work they are carrying out was truly extraordinary, although they often have to make difficult decisions about what surgery they can undertake, given that the aftercare in the child’s native country can be poor.

Upon my return, I was pleased to lodge a parliamentary motion highlighting the organisaiton’s achievements.

Closer to home, I was pleased to finally welcome a decisive step on mesh implants from the Scottish Government.

They have dithered over this issue for far too long and many women (and men) have had their lives fundamentally altered for the worse because of this procedure.

The statement from Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeanne Freeman will require health boards to stop all transvaginal mesh procedures until new protocols are developed and implemented.

Yet this new protocol does not apply to transabdominal mesh, which was listed as an underlying cause of death for Loanhead woman Eileen Baxter.

This is an issue I have been involved with since 2014, when my constituent Elaine Holmes appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee with fellow campaigner Olive McIlroy and bravely and clearly stated why there needed to be a change in the law to ban mesh.

We have come a long way since then but I know that, with colleagues such as the SNP’s Alex Neil and Scottish Labour’s Neil Findlay, we will be ensuring that the Scottish Government follow through on this decisive step and push for a total ban on this procedure.

Finally, with Ruth Davidson now on maternity leave, I shall be acting leader of the Scottish Conservatives for six months, so I shall be hard at work as I hold Nicola Sturgeon to account every week at First Minister’s Questions.

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