ECI’s “Israel at 70” symposium in the European Parliament – Israel’s legal foundations stand on solid ground

ECI at EP Brussels April 2018Brussels, April 25th, 2018 – The European Coalition for Israel organised a symposium for Israel’s 70th anniversary at the European Parliament in Brussels on April 25th, together with European Christian Political Movement (ECPM). It was hosted by MEP Branislav Škripek (ECR, Slovakia), with a cross-party panel which included former Slovenian Prime Minister MEP Alojz Peterle (EPP), MEP Péter Niedermüller (S&D, Hungary) and MEP Anna Zaborska (EPP, Slovakia).

In his opening remarks, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell pointed out that it was on April 25th, 1920, that the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers affirmed the rights of the Jewish people to reconstitute their own state in their ancestral homeland of Israel. Among the four major powers who made up the Supreme Council at the Paris Peace Conference, three are today members of the European Union, namely France, Britain and Italy. For this reason the EU has a special responsibility to honour the commitments made to the Jewish people in San Remo in 1920. These commitments have never been revoked and were preserved in article 80 in the Charter of the United Nations.

Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar from the Israeli Mission to the EU & NATO thanked the hosts for organising the event and spoke of the miracle that “Jews from over 100 countries returned to the land of Israel” from countries most of which were not democratic, but who “managed to create democratic institutions, protect freedoms and establish a legendary judicial system”. Host MEP Branislav Škripek described the foundation and the 70 years of existence of the State of Israel as “a true miracle”. He praised the European Parliament’s recognition of “Israel’s security challenges and the need to protect its territory and borders”, – given the current threats of Hamas and Iran.

Keynote speaker, Andrew Tucker, ECI Legal Counsel and Director of the Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (Thinc), noted that the claim that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal under international law “is nothing short of ethnic cleansing”, given that the Jewish people have been in the Middle East longer than many other groups. Although the international community unanimously decided to grant the peoples of the Middle East, who had been liberated from the Ottoman occupation, the right to determine their own future after WW1, they now seem to simply adopt the narrative of the Arab league and deny the Jewish people the right to exist in the disputed territories, which they refer to as “occupied Palestinian territory.”

The roots of Europe’s biased policy in the region date back to the 1970’s oil embargo of the Arab world and the policy is based on political considerations and not on international law. Tucker called for creative solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would enhance cooperation rather than separation. The perpetuation of the suffering has to be brought to an end. “Keeping Palestinians in refugee camps since 1949 is one of the greatest human rights abuses of our generation,” he concluded.

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