Saturday, 1 September 2007

European Parliamentarians denounce anti-Israel conference

Today the European Parliament will act as the host to a conference held by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP). Despite the neutrally sounding title of its conference, CEIRPP has a proven record of anti-Israel bias, spreading propaganda that presents only the Palestinian narrative, including the delegitimization of Israel - a UN member state.

The CEIRPP casts a shadow on the UN role in the Middle East conflict and is first and foremost harmful to the UN. Its work only reinforces a long held Israeli suspicion vis-a-vis the UN and contributes nothing to the cause of peace. A recent example is a plan of action calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Will today's conference, in the halls of the European Parliament, issue similar directives? Though of little practical consequence, this conference, especially under the banner and auspices of the European Parliament, will harm the cause of peace and also damage European credibility as an honest broker.

We are told that Parliament is merely letting CEIRPP use its premises. Surely, the European Parliament is not just a convention center. As Members of the European Parliament, we are shocked that this biased event would take place within our institutional premises.

Several colleagues have already announced they will boycott the conference. We hope many more will join in condemning this event and call on the presidency to reconsider the damaging consequences this event will have for our institution. Behind the neutral banner of a UN committee and the seemingly respectable goals of this conference there lurks a biased agenda of radical anti-Israel organizations. The European Parliament should not give them a platform in the only representative body of the European Union, whose goals are to foster dialogue and understanding, not acrimony, mistrust and despair.
Frédérique Ries, Belgium, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Bronislaw Geremek, Poland, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Patrick Gaubert, France, European People's Party
Bernard Lehideux, France, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Sarah Ludford, Britain, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Marek Siwiec, Poland, European Socialist Party
Charles Tannock, Britain, European People's Party

Published in the International Herald Tribune on August 30, 2007

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