Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein arrived in London Tuesday ahead of his expected address to both houses of Parliament at the invitation of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.
Edelstein’s speech on Wednesday will be one of the biggest Inter-Parliamentary Union events involving Israel.
After the event was announced, Palestinian envoy to the UK Manuel Hassassian wrote in The Independent that his visit would legitimize the “occupation,” due to Edelstein’s residence in Gush Etzion.
Edelstein, however, remained defiant ahead of his flight on Tuesday, repeating his response to Hassassian’s op-ed that he is “proud to represent the Knesset and the State of Israel, also as a settler of Judea and Samaria.”
“In all of my meetings and speeches, I will emphasize the truth about Israel and I will fight with all my might against the lies embedded in the boycotts,” he stated.
As for the lack of negotiations with the Palestinians, Edelstein said he will say Israel wants peace with its neighbors.
However, he added, “peace will not be attained through boycotts which add fuel to the anti-Semitic fire and encourage the rejection of Israel’s existence. Peace will come only by investing in our region and encouraging cooperation with our neighbors, in order to turn the Middle East into a better place for all of us.”
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The Knesset Speaker will be joined by Likud MK Yoav Kisch, whose grandfather, Brig.-Gen. Frederick Hermann Kisch, was the highest- ranking Jew to serve in the British military in World War II, and Zionist Union MKs Hilik Bar and Revital Swid.
Edelstein is expected to meet with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Bercow, House of Lords Speaker Baroness Frances D’Souza and other MPs and Lords and representatives of the Jewish Community. He will also host an event for prominent young British activists, including political activists, journalists, entrepreneurs and students.
On Monday, MKs Erel Margalit (Zionist Union) and Amir Ohana (Likud) debated Palestinian representative Zuhair Sanduka at the Parliamentary Assembly Union for the Mediterranean in Brussels.
Sanduka spoke out against Israeli policies and called for countries around the world to boycott Israeli products.
Margalit, the head of the delegation, responded: “We have had brave leaders who took the step of stretching out their hand to Palestinian leaders. You, the Palestinians, have to decide if you want to continue acting like victims or look beyond blind hatred to build a new future for both nations.”
“We condemned the murderers of Ali Dawabshe, including our prime minister and president,” Margalit added. “What about you? What about those who wake up in the morning and murder Israelis, does the Palestinian Authority condemn them? No. It names streets after them.”
Ohana added: “We certainly want peace, but in order to bring it, two conditions must be met. First, another side that wants peace, and second, that the other side is politically stable enough to maintain the conditions for peace. Unfortunately, I must say that as of today, the other side does not meet those conditions.
“Peace will happen when the central stream on the other side understands that we are here, in Israel, to stay,” he stated. “Peace cannot happen as long as there is hope that we will pass from here.”
As for Europe, Margalit said that unilateral steps in support of the Palestinians plays into extremists’ hands, strengthening their opposition to negotiations with Israel and weakening those who support a two-state solution.
Ohana said he thought the other parliamentarians understood the Israeli message, and “could not be apathetic when I revealed the inciting actions and words by the heads of the PA.”
“Even though this is not an easy arena for Israel, this time the PA representative did not receive his platform on a silver platter,” the Likud MK said.
The PA-UfM is a parliamentary assembly sponsored by the European Union for Mediterranean states, founded in 2004.
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