New EU vote ranking reveals geographical and ideological divide on Israel

Brussels, April 19th, 2024 – Central and Eastern European member countries who have lived under totalitarian rule are more supportive of Israel than EU member states in Western Europe. The same applies for parties on the political right who are more likely to align with Israel than those on the political left. These are some of the basic findings in a new EU survey based on voting records in the European Parliament in 2019-2024 which was presented in Brussels on Thursday evening, less than fifty days before the EU elections on 6-9 June.

The results do not come as a surprise for anyone who has monitored EU policies on Israel in recent years but give nevertheless hard evidence to that which in the past has mainly been general assumptions. Apart from measuring votes in relations to Israel the survey also looks at attitudes to the Islamic Republic of Iran which on Sunday opened a direct front against Israel by attacking the Jewish state directly from within its own territory. On Wednesday and Thursday EU leaders gathered for a two-day summit in Brussels and took additional measures to sanction Iran and all those who provide them with missiles and drones but failed to ban the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) despite pressure from some member countries to do so.

Leading the way for banning the IRGC was the largest party block in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party (EPP), which demanded tougher measures against Iran as a response to the attack. Earlier in the week leading MEP David Lega from the EPP group spelled out the new policies in the European Report stating that “soft policies did not get us anywhere with Putin, neither will they help us with the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Instead he required that both the IRGC and Hezbollah in its entirety should be designated as terrorist organisations.

Deputies such as David Lega on the right have consistently been asking for a ban of IRGC whereas this has been opposed by the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell and others on the political left.

Looking at the full Israel ranking, the Visegrad countries Poland, Czechia and Hungary are in the top of the charts, followed by Italy and Austria among the Western countries. The Republic of Ireland is in a league of its own in its criticism of Israel by scoring a mere 23 percent (compared to 76 for Poland), followed by Malta and Cyprus.

On the political party scene the right-wing opposition party Vox in Spain had the highest score, ahead of Civic Forum in Czechia, the Swedish Democrats in Sweden and the Reformed Party of the Netherlands, all part of the conservative ECR group. At the very bottom of the ranking we find national parties on the extreme left from countries such as Ireland, Belgium and Spain.

Commenting on the results in Brussels on Thursday evening, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell clarified that ECI is working to ensure that Israel will have support from across the political spectrum but in order to reach this goal we need to establish the current positions of the various political parties. Emphasising the critical role of individual members of the European Parliament not only in casting their votes but also in taking the floor and actively standing up for the Jewish state he thanked the outgoing Chair and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament delegation to Israel, Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP) and Bert-Jan Ruissen (ECR) respectively who have been consistent defenders of Israel throughout the five-year term. At the event also Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers spoke, representing the Swedish Democrats with the third best pro-Israel score of all 195 parties.

Ending on a positive note, Sandell concluded that support for Israel has risen across the party lines after October 7 and may rise further after the missile and drone attack by Iran on Sunday. This was illustrated in the joint statement from the 27 EU leaders on Thursday as they reaffirmed their commitments to Israel’s security while calling on all sides to prevent more tensions.

The full European Parliament Israel ranking 2024 can be found on the ECI website. The European Parliament elections will take place across the 27 EU member states on 6-9 June.

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