European Parliament building, Strasbourg, France.
(photo credit: ARND WIEGMANN)
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani stated that the institution's meetings "must not become a platform in support of terrorism" in a strongly-worded letter to the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Palestine (DPAL) on Thursday.
The rebuke comes in response to an event on Thursday, organized by DPAL, that included speeches given by relatives of convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons. Fadwa Barghouti, wife of Marwan Barghouti, and Sumoud Saadta, daughter of Ahmad Sa'adat, joined the event via video-link. A group of 17 members of the European Parliament had sent a letter to the parliament's president expressing their concern about the meeting.
In the letter, the MEPs stated that they were "utterly appalled with the understanding that our colleagues from DPAL, under the pretext of discussing, ' the situation of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails after the hunger strike,' are in fact offering a public platform to relatives of convicted terrorists."
Marwan Barghouti, the founder of the al-Aksa Martyr's Brigade, was convicted of murdering four Israelis and one non-citizen, a Greek monk, as well as one count of attempted murder. He was sentenced to five life-terms and is currently imprisoned in the Kishon Detention Center in the north of Israel.
Ahmad Sa'adat of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his participation in the terrorist organization, as well as his involvement in the assassination of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi.
Despite the letters from the 17 MEPs and the European Parliament president, the delegation chair of DPAL, Neoklis Sylikotis, denied the accusation that the meeting was being used "as a voice for terror." He accused Israel of "breaking international law and completely disrespecting human rights," specifically referring to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In addition, Sylikotis denounced Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners as cruel.