Thousands of legislators from around the world – even Iran – could descend on Jerusalem if the Inter- Parliamentary Union accepts an invitation from Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) brought the letter to IPU President Abdelwahed Radi during the organization’s conference in Geneva last week, asking the global organization of parliaments to hold a conference in Jerusalem as soon as possible.
Edelstein wrote that the Middle East has undergone dramatic changes in recent years, and that Israelis and Palestinians are “the only two peoples who are talking about hope and peace, choosing the path of dialogue in seeking to solve the conflict between them.”
The Knesset speaker asked the IPU president to hold a conference at the Knesset as a confidence-building measure by the international community, “in order to overcome hardships and hurdles along the road to reconciliation.”
Sheetrit said Israel would issue visas to all 163 IPU member countries’ MPs, including those that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
According to Sheetrit, a conference that was supposed to be held in 2014 in Uzbekistan was recently canceled because the country refused to give visas to Armenian representatives.
The IPU holds meetings at its headquarters in Geneva as well as in member countries each year.
Edelstein suggested that the topic of the IPU conference in Jerusalem be “How parliaments can contribute to the solution of world water problems.”
“I am convinced that the outcomes of a meeting like this could contribute proposals and solutions to one of the most important issues on the world agenda,” the Knesset speaker wrote. “Combining shared deliberations with the accumulated experience and knowledge of the participating countries has a great potential to lead to productive results and to mutual cooperation in a win-win situation, particularly for the Mediterranean region that is in such need of assistance.”
The IPU has yet to respond to Edelstein, but Sheetrit said that many foreign lawmakers expressed enthusiasm at last week’s conference.
“Israel has been an IPU member for decades, but this would be the first time we’d host the conference,” the Hatnua MK explained.
“We would bring MPs from all over the world the Jerusalem, and all of them – Jews, Muslims and Christians – will be able to pray at their holy sites.”