A delegation of members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists& Democrats (S&D), the second biggest party group in the European Parliament, visited Israel yesterday. The visit aimed at strengthening the dialogue with the Palestinian Arab community in Israel.
The visit comes in the middle of a wave of terror attacks by Palestinians against Israeli Jews. The perpetrators have mainly been Palestinians from East Jerusalem with permanent Israeli resident status or Israeli Arab citizens.
S&D Group vice-president Victor Boştinaru said after the meeting: “We are deeply concerned about the new wave of escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians over the past weeks. We strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians, express our condolences to the families of the victims, and call for an immediate de-escalation of the situation.”
The violence has been sparked by incitement around the Al Aqsa mosque at the Temple Mount/Holy Sanctuary in Jerusalem which according to the Palestinians is threatened by Israel. The Israeli government vehemently denies that it intends to change the status quo at the Temple Mount/Holy Sanctuary.
Judging from yesterday’s demonstration in the northern Arab city of Sakhin, the Israeli-Arab political leadership believes that the Al Aqsa mosque is threatened and must be defended at all costs.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi from the Joint Arab List said: “Al-Aqsa Mosque is a mosque for Muslims, period, and anyone whom that doesn’t suit should knock his in the wall.”
The leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, who faces charges for incitement and whose movement may be outlawed in Israel, said: “We’ll not surrender – we’ll win or die. The occupation of Al Aqsa will soon be lifted.”
The S&D delegation has invited Joint Arab List leaders to Brussels. Richard Howitt, S&D Group’s foreign affairs coordinator and chair of Parliament’s Working Group on the Middle East and North Africa said following the meetings with the Israeli-Arab leadership:
“We are facing a new situation today with daily clashes between Jewish Israeli and Palestinian citizens, which must not be ignored. Moreover, the disruptions to the status quo of the holy sites is adding a religious layer to these tensions, creating an extremely dangerous situation.
The S&D Group’s press service declined to respond to a request from The Brussels Times to clarify the statements made by the S&D delegation during its visit in Israel.
The Brussels Times