MKs leave NATO seminar during Iranian's speech

MK Shai calls Iranian speech "an insult to int'l community;" Eldad calls for Israel apply Iraqi model to conflict with Palestinians.

July 7, 2011 18:18
2 minute read.
MKs leave NATO seminar during Iranian's speech

arye eldad MK 248.88. (photo credit: Courtesy of the Knesset)

MKs Nachman Shai (Kadima) and Arye Eldad (National Union) walked out of a NATO Parliamentary Assembly Seminar earlier this week when an Iranian diplomat addressed the forum in Sardinia.

“It was an insult to the international community, NATO and Israel to invite Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Hani to speak,” Shai told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “A state that acts against peace and stability should not have the privilege of speaking at such an event.”

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“Representatives of Israel will not listen to a representative of a state that calls to wipe Israel from the map,” Eldad said in a statement. The National Union MK added that the Iranian diplomat should have listed ways to destroy Israel in his speech to the NATO event, which was focused on the Middle East and North Africa.

Shai said that he heard from other delegates that Hani said “interesting things” in his speech on Monday.

The Iranian diplomat reportedly discussed the importance of “human dignity, rule of law, justice and respect for different communities,” Shai said. He also called for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

“The Canadian representative said to me that he wasted half-an-hour, and couldn’t believe anything the Iranian said,” the Kadima MK added.

“I think that by leaving the conference, we made [the other countries] feel embarrassed about inviting Iran, which was the right thing to do,” Shai said.

Eldad and Shai both said they asked the Foreign Ministry what to do when an Iranian diplomat speaks at the conference, but were told that there is no official policy. At Wednesday’s Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the two that they acted appropriately.

The two-day NATO conference focused mostly on Iraq, and the MKs heard former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi, and former Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, discuss the country’s security and political challenges.

Eldad said he found a way to apply lessons from Iraq to Israel.

“In Iraq there are three nations, but no one in NATO or the US or Canada is calling for three states for three peoples,” he explained. “Everyone knows that would lead to war.”

In Israel, Eldad said, “people are so convinced that only two states for two nations will work, but in Iraq, people understand that’s not the way to solve an ethnic and religious conflict.”

The National Union MK suggested that Israel seek international support for “a different solution.”

“Unfortunately, here, people continue to insist on two states,” Eldad added.

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