6th Jul 2022

MEPs boycott trip after Israeli snub

  • Manu Pineda - chair of the EU Parliament's Delegation for relations with Palestine 'not approved' by Israel (Photo:
Listen to article

Last-minute Israeli blacklistings and red lines have prompted MEPs to call off an official trip, posing the question if Israel can belittle the EU Parliament with impunity.

Six MEPs led by Spanish left-winger and well-known Palestinian supporter Manu Pineda were due to meet Palestinian ministers in the occupied territories this weekend.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Gaza - the poorest and most isolated part of Palestine (Photo: Marcin Monko)

But instead EU staff, some of whom were already at airports, were told to turn around and go home because Israeli restrictions had made the visit untenable.

For one, Israel informed the EU embassy in Tel Aviv on Friday (19 May) that Pineda, who is chair of the EU Parliament's Delegation for relations with Palestine, was persona non grata, pushing the other five MEPs to boycott the trip in solidarity.

For good measure, right-wing Israeli media attacked Pineda for alleged ties with "terror supporters".

And to top things off, Israel told the EU that MEPs wouldn't be allowed to visit Gaza anyway — the most miserable part of Palestine.

"I was standing in the queue to board my flight from Dublin Airport when we got the news that Israel was obstructing our access," Irish Green MEP Grace O'Sullivan said on Sunday.

"Once again, Israel is blocking Parliament's attempts and work to assess the situation of the Palestinian people," said Pineda.

For some in Brussels, Israel's tactics looked like deliberate sabotage of his delegation.

And it recalled past EU Parliament clashes with China and Russia in which the EU assembly took firm action against political exclusion of MEPs.

Parliament mothballed a landmark EU-China investment treaty after Beijing blacklisted five MEPs in a human-rights dispute last year.

It also excluded Russian diplomats back in 2015 in a similar row in times before the current Ukraine war.

The EU Parliament president, Roberta Metsola, who arrived in Israel for a three-day visit on Sunday, said she'd "raise the issue" of Pineda's exclusion with Israeli authorities.

"I regret the decision," she said.

"Respect for MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good relations," the centre-right Metsola, who is due to address the Knesset on Monday in a rare honour, also said.

But for O'Sullivan Sunday's "regret" shouldn't be the last that Israel hears of the affront.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is also due to visit Israel in June, O'Sullivan noted.

"The European Parliament, and the EU at large has shown that it can take appropriate retaliatory measures in cases where countries such as Russia or China target our MEPs," she said.

"I want to see similar leadership in this current situation," O'Sullivan said, referring to Metsola and von der Leyen's follow up.

The Israeli mission to the EU did not reply to EUobserver's request for a comment on Sunday.

The Israeli foreign ministry note about Pineda of 19 May said only that he was "not approved", without giving any justification.

The MEPs weren't allowed to visit Gaza because "according to the current policy, we can't allow the visit to Gaza of delegations with political affiliation" an Israeli military sergeant wrote in a message to the EU side.


Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways

For the most part Nato and its 30 leaders rose to the occasion — but it wasn't without room for improvement. The lesson remains that Nato still doesn't know how or want to hold allies accountable for disruptive behaviour.


One rubicon after another

We realise that we are living in one of those key moments in history, with events unfolding exactly the way Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt describes them: a sudden crisis, rushing everything into overdrive.

News in Brief

  1. Alleged Copenhagen shooter tried calling helpline
  2. Socialist leader urges Czech PM to ratify Istanbul convention
  3. Scottish law chief casts doubt on referendum
  4. British PM faces mounting rebellion
  5. Russian military base near Finnish border emptied
  6. Euro slides to lowest level in two decades
  7. State intervention ends Norwegian oil and gas strike
  8. France repatriates 35 children from Syrian camp

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  2. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  3. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia
  4. 'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements
  5. Greece defends disputed media and migration track record
  6. MEPs adopt new digital 'rule book', amid surveillance doubts
  7. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules
  8. Turkey sends mixed signals on Sweden's entry into Nato

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us