MKs to talk Iran, Syria at NATO assembly

Three MKs head to Luxembourg to represent Israel, voice messages about Palestinians, Syria and Iranian threat.

May 16, 2013 15:06
1 minute read.
NATO summit

NATO summit. (photo credit: Reuters)

Three MKs headed to Luxembourg on Thursday to represent Israel at a NATO Parliamentary Assembly gathering on developments in the Middle East.

MKs Nachman Shai (Labor), Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) and Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi) will take part in the fourth-ever joint conference of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and NATO’s key decision-making body, the North Atlantic Assembly.

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“We have a major challenge: To make sure our messages about the Palestinians, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat are heard,” Shai said.

The assembly’s spring meeting begins on Friday, and the Knesset delegation will be there until Monday, along with lawmakers from the 28 NATO nations. Developments in North Africa and the Middle East are at the top of the agenda, as are Afghanistan’s future after the international combat mission wraps up in 2014, security challenges in the Sahel following the Mali crisis and policies needed to maximize NATO’s defense potential during an economic crisis.

“Although we have difficulties in the European arena, we know that NATO fears Iranian missiles and will discuss the topic,” Shai explained.

“The Syrian issue is also on the agenda, with NATO’s commitment to come to Turkey’s aid if it is attacked.”

Shai expressed hope that the reconciliation between Turkey and Israel will allow the latter to implement important plans, such as establishing an office at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, a step he said has great diplomatic importance and has thus far been vetoed by Turkey.

“We will also use informal dialogue in order to reach our goals,” added the Labor MK, who recently published a book on public diplomacy.

While at the airport on the way to Luxembourg, Chetboun posted on Facebook that he was proud and excited to represent the State of Israel for the first time as an MK.

“I will act diplomatically and stand strong for Israel’s interests and promote cooperation,” he wrote.

“The time has come to stop stuttering, to stand strong and make clear our significant, historical right to exist here.”

The Bayit Yehudi MK added that the Foreign Ministry made sure that he and the other MKs have kosher food and can keep Shabbat while abroad.

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