European parliamentarians show support for Israel - World Jewish Congress

European parliamentarians show support for Israel

Around 400 parliamentarians, including members of the European Parliament and of national parliaments of 37 European countries, attended a three-day policy conference in Jerusalem convened by the initiative European Friends of Israel (EFI). Several former heads of state and government were also present at the conference, including Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland, José Maria Aznar of Spain and George Vassiliou of Cyprus. Participants met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders including President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Alexander Machkevitch, president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, who sponsored the event, told the parliamentarians that Israelis and Europeans shared the same values of freedom, democracy and social responsibility. He stressed that in the face of the campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state, those who saw themselves as bearers of these values should show solidarity with Israel. The conference participants clearly demonstrated this solidarity, Machkevitch (pictured above with Peres and Swedish Euro parliamentarian Gunnar Hökmark) said.

The conference discussed issues like boycott threats against, terrorism and European-Israeli political and economic relations. According to the organizers, The European Friends of Israel was established in 2006 by European parliamentarians with the mission of "forging a stronger political relationship and a deeper understanding between Europe and Israel."

Israeli President Shimon Peres told the gathering that his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak would always be remembered for his contribution to peace between the two countries. In the opening address, Peres declared: "In spite of all the attacks against President Mubarak, I know him for many years, throughout his presidency, and I credit him as being one of the persons who saved many lives by preventing war in the Middle East, who saved lives of Egyptians, of Arabs, of Israelis, by not allowing to renew a war." Peres also spoke of his worries about the changes if Mubarak will have to leave the presidency. "Elections in Egypt are dangerous. Should the Muslim Brotherhood be elected they will not bring peace. Democracy without peace is not a democracy. We fear there will be a change in government without a change in the circumstances which led to this state."