Metsola heckled by extremists, tells Knesset European Parliament supports two-state solution in Middle East

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola earns wide applause but instigates fiery response from extremists when addressing a special session of the Israeli parliament

The European Parliament believes in a two-state solution that offers Israel security and Palestinians an "independent, democratic, contiguous and viable state", Roberta Metsola has told the Knesset.

Addressing the Israeli parliament in a special session in Jerusalem on Monday, the president of the European Parliament earned wide applause as she made overtures towards Israel but was also heckled by extremists.

“The European Parliament firmly supports the Middle East Peace Process. We support a two-state solution - with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security,” she said.

She is on an official visit to Israel. Metsola carefully tip-toed around two controversial incidents – the denial by Israel to allow far-left Spanish MEP Manu Pineda permission to enter the country and the recent murder of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh by gunfire that is widely believed to have come from Israeli forces.

Metsola dwelt at long on the need for peace and referred to the Middle East peace process towards the tail-end of her speech.

“I know there are those who do not agree. I know there have been multiple false starts to this process. I know that not everyone sees peace as a goal. And I know how hard it must be to tell a mother whose child has been killed that peace is the answer,” she said.

She insisted peace is the only way forward for prosperity in the region. “It is the only way for Israelis and Palestinians to live in safety and prosperity.”

Metsola said a visit to Israel was a priority at the beginning of her mandate.

“I wanted to come early in my mandate to send a signal of our willingness to engage. To underline the European Parliament’s commitment to furthering our ties and to underscore that the European Union and Israel share more than history,” she said.

The EP President also mentioned Russia’s “outrageous” invasion of Ukraine, saying “the very foundations of the world’s rules-based order have been shaken to the core.”

“Putin now threatens the world with nuclear weapons. We must act together and do everything within our power to prevent Russia from using and other non-democratic actors from acquiring nuclear weapons that would bring more death and irreparable destruction,” she said.

The mention of 'non-democratic actors' could be interpreted as a reference to Iran, which has ambitions to develop nuclear energy but which Israel and other countries fear is a veiled excuse to eventually develop nuclear weapons.

She said Russia is threatening the world’s food security, destroying fields, blocking transport routes and inciting artificial food shortage. “Food insecurity brings about instability, chaos and forces people leave their homes and their countries. It can disrupt sensitive balances far from the origin of the source.”

Metsola's mentions of the Ukrainian invasion by Russia, and the two-state solution, led to interruptions from a handful of Knesset members from both the extreme right and left of the political spectrum.

The Knesset Speaker remarked that this was part and parcel of the Israeli parliament, to which Metsola replied "this is democracy" as she played down the incidents.

Metsola concluded her speech by stating the European Parliament will always be a strong ally in the search for a way forward and in the quest for peace.

“The story of your great nation is one of hope, of perseverance, of faith and of overcoming adversity. This is the moment that Israel can lead the world in not only seeking but in finding that elusive peace,” she said.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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