A delegation of representatives of the Samaria Regional Council recently held a series of meetings with French parliament members, just two months after the MPs voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state, in order to discuss the establishment of a “pro-Israel political action committee” within the parliament.
The aim of the political action committee, the group explained, is to raise awareness about the coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians in the territories and clarify that any ban imposed on products from West Bank Jewish settlements would also affect the livelihood of thousands of Palestinians. The representatives also stated their intention to fly out to Paris a delegation of Israelis and Palestinians working together in the Barkan Industrial Zone in the West Bank.
In recent days, the delegation from Samaria, headed by the Council's Deputy Head Yossi Dagan, conducted several meetings with several French lawmakers, including member of parliament Francois Pupponi.
The MP admitted that currently, there were no parliament members representing the interests of the State of Israel in the French legislature. The issue became evident, he explained, when the parliament passed the vote to recognize a Palestinian state. “It is very important to establish a public relations group that will be able to provide real answers regarding what is happening on the ground,” Pupponi said. “As friends of Israel, we must promote such things together.”
Meir Habib, a French-Jewish member of parliament, expressed his wish to join the efforts, saying: “Our goal is to show the world, and France in particular, that the only possibility of real coexistence is in Samaria.” Addressing the representatives from Samaria, he said: “You are the example of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. Considering that people here do not understand the situation in Israel, we will make an effort to bring French MPs to Samaria in order to show them the reality.”
The settler representatives said they were in contact with dozens of French MPs, both left and right-wing, who all voiced their willingness to visit Samaria. The first delegation is expected to arrive in April.
Additionally, a delegation from Samaria will head to France next month in order to hold marathon meetings with other MPs and will participate in a conference in support of the State of Israel and the settlements.
“Unfortunately, the state of Israel has been neglecting the hasbara (public diplomacy) front for years,” Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said. “The result is a one-sided approach from Europe, expressed in all possible forums. It leaves us with no choice but to attempt to fight on every stage and in parliaments in Europe and the world, in order to present the position of the communities in the West Bank.”
Acting Head of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, added: “The lack of hasbara throughout Europe, from which Israel suffers, is even more pronounced in France, and so it is no wonder that France – a very influential country in the continent – has been a vanguard against the state of Israel. A number of the MPs even made the issue clear in private conversations.”
“In our initial meetings, we realized once again that the direct contact with the Samaria representatives, our presentation of the true reality to them and our emphasis on the fact that we have a right to the Land of Israel, does the job. Once we explain with pride that this is our country – people become convinced.”