The leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has announced that she will be leading a mission of S&D MEPs to Israel and Palestine from June 12-16.
Together with Iratxe García MEP, the members taking part in the mission are:
- Pedro Marques MEP, S&D Group vice-president for foreign affairs
- Evin Incir MEP, standing rapporteur for Palestine in the European Parliament’s committee on foreign affairs and vice-chair of the Parliament’s delegation for relations with Palestine
- Elena Yoncheva MEP, vice-chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Israel
S&D MEPs will be meeting leading politicians in Jerusalem and Ramallah, as well as civil society representatives from Israel and Palestine.
During their visit, they will meet Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, together with other representatives of the Palestinian Authority. They will also meet the brother of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian journalist recently killed in Jenin.
The MEPs will visit the Aida refugee camp run by UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) as well as Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills, where over a thousand Palestinians are facing the demolition of their homes and displacement by the Israeli army.
In Jerusalem, they will hold meetings with members of the Israeli government and progressive Israeli leaders, including Merav Michaeli, chair of the Israeli Labor Party, and Nitzan Horowitz, chair of Meretz.
Iratxe García MEP said: “I am very worried about the constantly deteriorating situation on the ground in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The EU has a responsibility to protect the viability of the two-state solution, the only one that can bring a permanent peace to the region. I also hope that the EU budget support for the Palestinian Authority that has been suspended will be unblocked by the time we arrive in Ramallah.
“We want to show our support for the Palestinian people living under occupation. Beyond East Jerusalem and the West Bank, I would have also liked to visit Gaza on the 15th anniversary of the blockade, but access was once more denied. We must continue our work to make sure that one day it will be the Palestinians who control their borders and to keep the hope alive for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“It is crucial that we speak with our Israeli counterparts at a moment when the political tensions in the Knesset seem to be undermining the efforts of the coalition government. This government has represented an opportunity for Israel and a promise, which should not be missed. Peace in the region needs strong leadership, courage and vision on both sides. And the EU should be an active player to support their efforts.”