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EU parliament chief: Israeli policies have no impact on European anti-Semitism

February 12, 2014 11:30

Martin Schulz, who is visiting Israel to give a speech in the Knesset, wasn't eager to discuss settlements with reporters.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz

European Parliament President Martin Schulz. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Anti-Semitism has been a constant in Europe, and that hasn't changed irrespective of what goes on in the Middle East, the president of the European Parliament, who is in Israel to deliver a speech to the Knesset later Wednesday, told The Jerusalem Post.

"Anti-Semitism always existed in Europe," said EU Parliament chief Martin Schulz. "I thought that after World War II we were stronger in fighting such demons in politics. This is a deception. Nothing disappeared, all the prejudice is there."

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During a press briefing in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Schulz was pressed regarding the European position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Settlements are illegal, but to continuously repeat that does nothing toward moving forward an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, Martin Schulz, the visiting president of the European Parliament, said Wednesday.

His hesitance at first to clearly state the well-known EU position regarding the illegality of the settlements raised some eyebrows, especially since he comes from the left-wing socialist grouping in the parliament.

Pressed on the matter, he said that under the Fourth Geneva Convention the settlements are illegal, which is the EU's position, though this is not one shared by the US, which deems them "illegitimate."

But, Schulz said, the characterization of the settlements as illegal does nothing to help solve problems.

"We can discuss until Christmas the legality or illegality of the settlements," said the German politician, adding that the EU and the UN have issued countless proclamations about this.

"I think that what we need is not a debate about legality, but practical solutions," he said. "This is a question about political effectiveness and diplomacy."

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