Two Irish MEPs were part of an EU delegation which today had to cancel a planned diplomatic mission to Palestine because the Israeli authorities prevented the chairman of the delegation from entering the state.
he delegation for relations with Palestine canceled the trip after its president Manu Pineda was prevented from entering Israel.
The delegation of six MEPs, including Grace O’Sullivan, MP for the Green Party South, and Chris MacManus, MEP for Sinn Fein Midlands North West, were due to arrive in Israel en route to Palestine via Tel Aviv.
However, belatedly, the group was informed that the mission could not go ahead as planned due to what was described as a “unilateral decision” taken by the Israeli authorities to limit the MPs’ access.
Israeli authorities said: “[They] cannot allow political delegations and legislators to visit Gaza. »
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola will visit Israel and Palestine in the coming days.
In a message posted on Twitter following the cancellation of the delegation’s mission, President Metsola said: “Respect for MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good relations.
I will raise the matter directly with the authorities concerned.
Respect for MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good relations.
— Roberta Metsola (@EP_President) May 22, 2022
This comes as earlier this week the delegation for relations with Palestine was informed by the Israeli authorities that it would not be allowed to visit the Gaza region “as a delegation”.
MEP Grace O’Sullivan said she was waiting to catch her flight at Dublin Airport today when she learned that Israel was ‘blocking our access to the occupied territories’.
“We had many meetings scheduled with NGOs and Palestinian Authority officials, but unfortunately the trip was canceled and the chairman of the delegation was refused entry to Tel Aviv. The Palestinians we were supposed to visit are working on the ground under the most difficult of circumstances, especially in light of the recent murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” she said.
Ms O’Sullivan condemned the decision of the Israeli authorities and said the EU must react strongly, with sanctions if necessary.
“I expect today from the President of the European Parliament, Metsola, and from the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during her next trip to the region, that they address this issue firmly and at the highest level with the Israeli authorities. It is essential to ensure that MEPs and bodies of the European Parliament are finally allowed to enter Palestine, including Gaza,” she said.
“The European Parliament, and the EU as a whole, have shown that they can take appropriate retaliatory action in cases where countries like Russia and China target our MEPs, I want to see similar leadership in this situation We must take a strong stand in defense of elected officials and, more importantly, Palestinians whose voice is denied by actions like this.
She added: ‘We have seen lately that if you let a government go with unacceptable behavior, everything flies away and in the end it can spiral out of control. In the case of Ireland and the EU, trade sanctions may be considered.
Ms O’Sullivan met the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid this afternoon to discuss the incident. She said Ambassador Abdalmajid was “disappointed” but not “too surprised”.
“She was hugely disappointed that the delegation was blocked because she identified that we had a good program which would have been very important for us to shed light on the situation on the ground… She is not too surprised, but she is hugely disappointed that we didn’t have the opportunity to get into the different areas we were going to and meet the different groups,” she said.
Ms O’Sullivan added that she hopes the delegation can complete the mission “as soon as possible”.