The project of forming friendship links between Oxford and Ramallah originated in March 2002, when Israeli tanks rolled into Ramallah. Volunteer observers from Oxford who were in Ramallah at the time called for support. So we formed the Oxford Ramallah Friendship Association (ORFA) which includes people representing a wide range of organizations.
ORFA has sent a number of delegations from Oxford to Ramallah to meet people with whom they have something in common, such as working in the same industry. These delegations have been funded by the participants themselves, but ORFA welcomes return visits from Ramallah residents. We have organised visits from Al Amari camp to Oxford, of children in 2005, 2007, and 2011, a women’s visit in 2014, and a Dabke group in 2018. Groups visited Ramallah from Oxford in many years including a youth visit in 2008, a trade union visit in 2015, and olive picking in 2016.
In July 2018 Oxford City Council made a decision to move towards twinning with Ramallah Municipality and on March 11 2019 a formal agreement was signed by Mayor Musa Hadid and Mayor Colin Cook, in the presence of Ambassador Husam Zomlot. ORFA set up a separate organisation, Oxford-Ramallah Twinning, to work with the two cities and promote grassroots links.