New European Parliament president 'fearless proponent of EU-Israel ties'

Jewish groups welcome Antonio Tajani, who succeeds Martin Schulz.

January 18, 2017 15:42
2 minute read.
Newly elected European Parliament's President Antonio Tajani attends a debate on the priorities of t

Newly elected European Parliament's President Antonio Tajani attends a debate on the priorities of the incoming Malta Presidency of the EU for the next six months at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, January 18, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN)

European Jewish groups on Wednesday welcomed the installment of Antonio Tajani as the European Parliament president.

Tajani, 63, of the center-right European People’s Party, beat Center-Left leader and fellow Italian Gianni Pittella by 351 votes to 282. Tajani is an ally of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and a former vice president of the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said that at a Conference dinner in the Great Synagogue of Europe in Brussels in September, Tajani had reassured him that he would do “everything in his powers to preserve the rights and safety of the Jewish community in Europe.

Goldschmidt continued, “We look forward to working with Mr. Tajani in his new role as we continue to work toward making Europe a safe, open and inclusive place for members of all religions to call home.”

The American Jewish Congress congratulated Tajani on his election.

“The AJCongress looks forward to working with Mr.

Tajani during his stewardship of the European Parliament, to further strengthen the strong relationship between Israel and the European Union,” AJC President Jack Rosen said.

“Throughout his time in the European Parliament, Mr. Tajani has been a strong supporter of Israel,” he continued. “Notably, Mr. Tajani led a delegation of industry associations and company representatives from EU countries to Israel, to strengthen business relations between the EU and Israel.

“The AJCongress hopes that Mr. Tajani will continue his strong support for Israel in his new role,” Rosen said.

One of Tajani’s first activities in his new post will be to host the EU event to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day next week, held every January at the European Parliament in collaboration with the European Jewish Congress.

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor lauded Tajani’s involvement in this event, saying that “his ongoing concerns for the preservation of the memory of the Holocaust and for fighting antisemitism and racism are commendable.

“We welcome the election of new European Parliament President Antonio Tajani,” Kantor said. “We very much look forward to working with him on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.

“President Tajani has been a good friend of the Italian Jewish community and the State of Israel and has been a fearless proponent of stronger ties between Israel and the European Union, especially in trade and technological cooperation,” Kantor added.

Kantor paid tribute to Martin Schulz, whom Tajani succeeded on Tuesday, for ensuring that the Holocaust remembrance event became an official annual event in the European Parliament.

“We are very grateful for the friendship and assistance that president Schulz has shown us at the EJC and the wider European Jewish community during his tenure,” Kantor said. “We especially thank him for his work on ensuring that this event takes place and is well attended by all levels of the European Union.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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