Israel bars EU parliament member from entering the country

Israeli law prohibits supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement from entering the country.

Workers adjust a European flag outside the EU Parliament ahead of the EU elections in Brussels (photo credit: YVES HERMAN / REUTERS)
Workers adjust a European flag outside the EU Parliament ahead of the EU elections in Brussels
(photo credit: YVES HERMAN / REUTERS)

A member of the European Parliament was turned around at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and sent back to her native Spain after attempting to enter Israel on a diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority

Israeli officials cited the fact that the politician Ana Miranda, who represents the Galicia region, participated in a 2015 flotilla that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israeli law prohibits supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement from entering the country and US Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were barred from visiting in 2019.

But Politico obtained emails sent earlier this month from Israel’s foreign ministry that granted Miranda permission to visit.

“It’s a diplomatic conflict [and] it’s intolerable that Israel exerts control over members of a delegation that’s going to Palestine, not going to Israel,” Miranda told Politico.

Roberta Metsola, president of the EU parliament, wrote on Twitter that she was “deeply disappointed” by the incident and “will be contacting Israel’s authorities to clarify what happened.”

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)

Miranda, a member of the Greens/European Free Alliance group, was part of a delegation of eight EU lawmakers. Some had planned to visit Israel, while others planned to visit the West Bank. Politico reported that the Israeli foreign ministry emails show that another proposed member of the delegation, Manu Pineda, was barred from entry over his alleged support of Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the EU. Pineda denies supporting Hamas, but he did not attempt to visit after his request to was denied.

“Respect for all elected MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good EU-Israel relations,” Nabila Massrali, the European Commission’s spokesperson for foreign affairs, told Politico. “This decision is deeply disappointing.”