A delegation of over 400 European lawmakers visited the Knesset on Monday, but
while joint committee hearings were held on a myriad of subjects from
immigration to ecology, all eyes were turned toward Egypt, as key speakers
focused on changes in the region as well as Israel’s abilities to represent
European Friends of Israel includes hundreds of European
parliament members, and was established to advance recognition of the cultural
and democratic ties that bind the Jewish state and the continent.
Common values, a shared fight against terror
Analysis: Ups and downs in Europe-Israel 2010 ties
that in neighboring countries, murderous and oppressive regimes will flourish,
that make a mockery of their citizens’ hopes for freedom, just as happened in
Iran in 1979,” Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told the delegation during a
closing session on Monday evening. “I hope that the recent changes in
administrations do not bear prophetic warnings of a “new Middle East” that is more radical and dangerous
Rivlin also warned that “there is a
malevolent coalition that is trying to convince Europe of the failure of the
Zionist dream. As long as Israel maintains itself as the lone democracy in a
Muslim and fanatic Middle East, the fated partnership between Israel and Europe
continues to deepen.
“Europe must not turn into another front with which
Israel must cope and which Israel must convince that it is a democratic state,”
“The establishment of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state
in the Middle East is a historical process, and maintaining it is a daily
Opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni also spoke out
regarding defamation of Israel overseas.
“One can criticize Israel for
government policies with which one disagrees, but when it touches upon the
vision of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and Israel’s need to fight
against terror, we need the support of the free world – and on that matter,
there is no coalition and no opposition,” she told the visiting legislators
during an afternoon session. Livni also spoke out against those who compare IDF
soldiers to terrorists.
Earlier in the day, almost 100 members of the
European delegation participated in a joint session of the Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee, in which they discussed a wide variety of diplomatic and
securityrelated topics. Committee chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) told the MKs and
Europeans that “2011 is likely to be a turning-point in the Middle East. We have
no doubt that Iran acted in Lebanon to bring down the Hariri administration in
order to increase their military and political influence in Lebanon. Israel
hopes that in spite of the events in Egypt, the peace agreement will be
“The recent events in the Middle East could create a domino
effect regarding the intervention of radical elements,” Mofaz continued. “In
light of the recent events, the importance of the peace process is increased. I
believe in the peace process, and time is acting against both Israel and the
Palestinians. We should enter direct talks with no preconditions with the
Mofaz added that any peace talks with Syria would be of
secondary importance relative to negotiations with the Palestinians.
addition to participating in Knesset events throughout the day, a group of
lawmakers from the United Kingdom, Malta and Belgium visited the Schalit family
protest tent outside of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Monday afternoon. The
parliamentarians told Aviva and Noam Schalit that they would continue to work to
raise awareness in their countries, and described the actions that they had
taken thus far to call for the release of St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit.
past summer, European Friends of Israel worked to sponsor a resolution within
the European Parliament calling for the immediate and unconditional release of
the IDF soldier, who has spent nearly five years in captivity in the Gaza
During the final session of EFI conference, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu warned the visitors that there are numerous possible outcomes
to the upheaval in Egypt – and noted that not all of them are
“There is the possibility that the Islamists will take
advantage of the situation to take control of the state,” he warned, and “a
third option that Egypt will go in the direction of Iran,” in which the regime
would oppress its citizens and threaten its neighbors.
emphasized that whatever the outcome, it is in Israel’s interest to maintain the
30-year-old peace with Egypt, which has served the interests of the entire
Israel, he said, expects that the international community will
demand that any future Egyptian leader maintain the peace agreement.
prime minister added that Israel must expand its peace agreements to encompass
the Palestinians, while maintaining dependable security arrangements in light of
the fact that the situation in the Palestinian Authority remains volatile.