EU lawmakers protest hosting in Brussels of Palestinian terrorists’ relatives


(JTA) — Lawmakers from 15 E.U. member countries protested the hosting at the European Parliament of relatives of Palestinians who are in jail for murdering Israelis in terrorist attacks.

The 17 European Parliament lawmakers from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and 11 other countries expressed their opposition to the move in an open letter they sent Thursday to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. The letter was about the scheduled hosting that day in Brussels of relatives of Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat by members of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine.

“We are utterly appalled,” wrote the cosignatories, including Fulvio Martusciello, chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Israel, by the “offering of a public platform to relatives of convicted terrorists.”

Barghouti, a PLO militant, was sentenced by an Israeli court in 2004 to multiple life sentences for planning dozens of deadly terrorist attacks. Some observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict believe that among Palestinians, Barghouti possesses credibility that other leaders lack, and may therefore be capable of implementing compromises that may facilitate a peace agreement with Israel. Sa’adat, who was arrested in 2006, was the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist group and one of the planners of the murder Rehavam Ze’evi, a Israeli cabinet minister, in 2001.

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The European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine invited Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, and Sa’adat’s daughter, Sumoud, to a discussion Thursday about “the situation of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails after the hunger-strike,” as the organizers of that debate described it.

“We call for the suspension of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine meeting until its guest speakers’ agenda reflects the European values and norms on combating hate speech and terrorism,” wrote the 17 lawmakers, including Frederique Ries of Belgium and the Dutch lawmaker Bas Belder, who is the vice chair of the Delegation for relations with Israel at the European Parliament.

The letter includes signatures of lawmakers from all four Scandinavian countries that are represented at the European Parliament: Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Estonia.

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