Missing yeshiva students (left to right)Naphtali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) called for the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli teens Wednesday, followed intensive efforts by MKs Nachman Shai (Labor) and Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) in Strasbourg this week to advocate for European countries to help bring the boys home safely.
The PACE Committee on Political Affairs voted to approve a statement calling for "Europe member states to do what they can to help secure the release of the teenagers."
"This is our top priority. The basic values of the council of Europe, human rights and defending the rights of children, are being tested," Shai and Hoffman said.
Parliamentarians from the UK, Poland, the Netherlands and Norway signed a more strongly-worded message calling for their governments to do all they can to bring the immediate release of the three boys kidnapped in Gush Etzion two weeks ago.
The declaration, signed by 22 MPs, was initiated by UK MP and Vice Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel James Clappison.
The petition recounts the kidnapping and states that "the Hamas organization is widely believed to be involved in this act." It also quotes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as saying the kidnappers want to destroy the PA and undermine the peace process, which PACE supports.
"The undersigned members of the Parliamentary Assembly condemn this brutal act in the strongest possible terms and call for the immediate release of the teenagers and for all governments to work to this end," the message reads.
PACE is made up of representatives of parliaments throughout Europe, and together with foreign ministers of member countries, make up the Council of Europe, which seeks to defend human rights, democracy and rule of law. Only democratic countries may be members.
The Knesset, as well as the parliaments of Canada and Mexico, have observer status in PACE.
Last week, Clappison tabled a motion in the House of Commons as follows: "This House calls for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers...supports the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs' strong condemnation of the kidnapping; notes the probable involvement of the Hamas organization in this despicable terrorist act; and calls on the Government to continue to do all it can to help secure the release of the teenagers."
“I am obviously extremely concerned for the safety of the teenagers; I know the Foreign Secretary is doing all he can to facilitate their safe return and I will continue to do all I can too," Clappison stated.