Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein urged Italy to cancel Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit scheduled for January 25, during a Friday meeting in Rome with Laura Boldrini, president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
Edelstein pointed out that two days after Rouhani’s planned trip to Italy is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Tehran will mark the occasion by hosting a Holocaust cartoon contest with a $50,000 cash prize.
“A person who denies and ridicules the Holocaust is not worthy of entering Europe,” Edelstein stated.
The two parliament leaders discussed the wave of refugees in Europe, with Boldrini lamenting “rising Islamophobia, especially after the difficult incidents in Cologne,” on New Year’s Eve, when about 1,500 men, said to be of North African appearance, sexually assaulted hundreds of people.
“Many countries will have to learn how to balance being a free country with liberties and respecting the differences of the refugees,” Edelstein responded.
“Europe cannot continue not watching its borders and gathering intelligence, or else more attacks like the one in Paris will happen.”
On Sunday, Edelstein is expected to participate in an event at the Great Synagogue in Rome, along with Pope Francis and Religious Services Minister David Azoulay. Edelstein and the Pontiff will meet after the event.
Edelstein met with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Berlin on Thursday, and said the European Union should be more cautious about funding Israeli NGOs.
“The EU has to be very careful,” he said. “It’s very good to support human rights. It’s very good and positive to support dialogue...
I participated in dialogue with Palestinians and Palestinian legislators.”
However, Edelstein added, “supporting people who are sending Palestinians to death, because of their ideology, is not something that is doing any honor to any organization.”
The Knesset speaker was referring to the case of Ezra Nawi, a farleft activist who was arrested after being shown on an investigative journalism TV program boasting about how he helps Palestinian security forces find Palestinians who sell land to Jews, the penalty for which in the PA is death.
Nawi is seen in the program making contact with an employee of B’Tselem, a human rights organization that has generated controversy in Israel because of its critical stance toward government policies in the West Bank.
B’Tselem, like many left-wing NGOs in Israel, receives funding from the European Union.
Edelstein and Schulz also discussed the EU directive for member countries to specially label products from the West Bank, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem.
Schulz spoke out against the policy, saying: “It mainly hurts Palestinians who make a decent wage there.”
Edelstein concurred: “Israel will survive the labeling. The ones who won’t survive are thousands of Palestinian families that work shoulder-to-shoulder with their Jewish friends and coexist.
Labeling “will hurt their economy, their lives, their families and will destroy the existing seeds of peace in the areas of employment.”
The Knesset speaker added: “Europeans boycott wines from the Golan Heights... Who should we give the Golan to, Syria or ISIS?” Schulz expressed concern about increased anti-Semitism in Europe, and Edelstein said: “European countries cannot say they oppose anti-Semitism but in the same breath be anti-Israel.”
The German politician said his country has good relations with Israel, “unlike Sweden,” and said the existence of Israel as a Jewish State is of utmost importance.
“There is a lot of immigration to Europe and especially Germany, and the first thing we need to give them is an education against anti-Semitism,” Schulz said.