Israel refuses entry to pro-Palestine MEP as delegation boycotts visit

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola said she would raise the issue of the blacklisting of Spanish MEP Manu Pineda

Roberta Metsola visits Jaffa’s old city with Dimiter Tzantchev, EU ambassador to Israel
Roberta Metsola visits Jaffa’s old city with Dimiter Tzantchev, EU ambassador to Israel

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola has said she will raise the exclusion of MEPs from a delegation visit to Israel, after blacklistings raised questions of disrespect for the EP.

Metsola in Israel for a three-day since Sunday, but last-minute Israeli blacklistings and red lines forced six MEPs to call off the official trip led by Spanish left-winger and well-known Palestinian supporter Manu Pineda, who were to meet Palestinian ministers in the occupied territories.

“I regret the decision,” Metsola said. “Respect for MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good relations,” Metsola said, who will also address the Knesset on Monday.

The EUObserver reported reported that Israel had informed the EU embassy in Tel Aviv on Friday, 19 May, that Pineda was persona non grata, prompting the other MEPs to boycott the trip in solidarity. It also said that MEPs would not be alloed to visit Gaza.

EU staff at the airports were told to turn around and go home because Israeli restrictions had made the visit untenable.

“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.

“Once again, Israel is blocking Parliament’s attempts and work to assess the situation of the Palestinian people,” Pineda, who is chair of the EU Parliament’s delegation for relations with Palestine, said.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is also due to visit Israel shortly.

“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,” O’Sullivan said.

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