Israel MEP ban: Palestine delegation says Metsola raised complaint with Lapid

Spanish MEP banned from visit to Palestinian occupied territories says Roberta Metsola raised issued with foreign minister

Spanish MEP Manu Pineda
Spanish MEP Manu Pineda

European Parliament president Roberta Metsola was reported to have raised the issue of Israel’s blacklisting of MEP Manu Pineda, in a meeting with foreign minister Yair Lapid.

Pineda, chair of the EP’s delegation to Palestine, was declared a persona non gratae by the Israeli government ahead of a visit to the occupied territories with a group of six MEPs and their staff.

Metsola was in Israel this week to address the Knesset as well as to meet Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

In a press conference in Brussels, Pineda – a Spanish MEP from the United European Left – said he was informed that Metsola had communicated her complaint on the blacklisting to foreign minister Yair Lapid.

“The foreign minister has maintained his stance, stating that in no way would they reverse the decision. We hope this can be changed... otherwise we would have to forward a reciprocal request vis-a-vis Israeli MPs,” Pineda told the press on Tuesday.

“We as a delegation would request this to the president, who would then have to decide on this request.”

Pineda said he hoped Israel would rectify what he said was “an unjustified mistake to sanction the European Parliament.”

“We will allow president Metsola room for manouevre,” Pineda said.

Pineda also said that the delegation had spoken to the EU’s external affairs commissioner Josep Borrell, but said he preferred to see Metsola deal with the matter.

The European Parliament’s Palestine Delegation had scheduled an official mission to Palestine on 23 May, led by Pineda.

The delegation aimed to assess the situation of the Palestinian population, and it was its first mission following the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s war in Gaza. Visits to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus and the Gaza Strip were on the agenda, to meet civil society stakeholders, different political and institutional actors and media organisations to understand the situation following the assassination of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

For more than a decade, Israeli authorities have denied the European Parliament access to Gaza. On Sunday, 22 May, MEPs were once more not allowed to enter. 

 “Once again, Israel is putting the brakes on Parliament’s attempts and work to assess the situation of the people in Palestine,” Pineda said.

“It maintains its opacity about its human rights violations against the population of occupied Palestine. The Israeli occupation cannot have control over access to Palestine. Nor can it stand in the way of the European Parliament’s work to ensure that the Palestinian people are heard”.

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