'Jerusalem in Colors' at European parliament
Jerusalem affairs minister, Jacob Edery - 'We didn't promise funds'
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

European parliament marks Jerusalem Day

European parliament in Brussels celebrates unification of Jerusalem while their colleagues boycott local ceremonies. Finnish lawmaker: 'Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 2000 years, history did not begin 60 years ago'

While Israeli officials slammed European diplomats' boycott of the Knesset's Jerusalem Day celebrations, the European parliament in Brussels planned its own event marking the reunification of Jerusalem on Monday.


However the fate of the event hangs in the balance due to insufficient subsidy, and the Israeli, American and the European diplomats who planned to attend lamented the possibility of missing a chance to show their support for Israel.


Titled "Jerusalem in Colors", the event celebrates 40 years since Jerusalem's reunification and is supposed to take place in the European Parliament building in Brussels. According to European officials, Vice President of European Parliament Marek Siwiec was to be in attendance, along with the American ambassador to the EU and some 20 European parliament members from various nations.


The itinerary included an exhibition of the works of Israeli artist Shuly Wolff and a wine tasting.


The party was organized by pro-Israeli members of the European parliament, the European Jewish Community Center, and the office for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs.


However, according to European sources, funding for the event has been delayed and therefore the party may be cancelled.


The sources told Ynet that while in Israel "one hand" was working to bring European and American representatives to the local festivities "the other hand" wasn't doing enough to ensure the celebration of its capital's unification at the heart of one of Europe's key institutions.


The sources said that the celebration was organized by the Israeli office for Jerusalem affairs, which also promised some $17,600 to finance the affair. But after almost three months of negotiations the office failed to transfer the funds – either directly or through the Jerusalem municipality.


From the office of Israel's minister for Jerusalem affairs, Jacob Edery, officials confirmed that the EJCC requested monetary assistance several weeks ago but when the office examined the matter it was found that the office could not transfer the money to a private organization. In any case, said Edery's office, no promises were made.


The request was transferred to the Jerusalem municipality, however they too were unable to transfer the funds due to the same legal restrictions.


European sources said that Israel must find a way to finance the party as it is a unique opportunity to display Israel's sovereignty over all of Jerusalem at an event sponsored by the European parliament.


MP: 'Jerusalem belongs to Israel'

One of the organizers of the event is Finnish MP Hannu Takkula, a member of the parliament's delegation for relations with Israel who has spoken many times in the past on Europe's relationship with Israel.


Speaking with Ynet from Helsinki Takkula said: "We planned this event because it is important for us to encourage support of Israel in the European Union. Israel is always on the union's agenda, and in most cases for this is negative attention. It is important for us to have the European parliament display its support of Jerusalem in a positive manner.


"We must not forget that Europe and Israel are built on the same heritage and share joint values such as democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and more. Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity, is one of the most important cities for Europeans. But it is also the capital of Israel and the capital of the Jewish people."


- But many see the celebration of the unification of Jerusalem as celebrating the Israeli occupation of its Eastern half….


"We see it differently. Jerusalem is not separated but unified. We encourage this position. We are discriminating against no one. If there are Arabs or Muslims who wish to participate in the event – they are of course invited."


- Many in Israel criticized European bodies who said they would not participate in the Jerusalem Day ceremony in the Knesset due to the political issue of Israel's sovereignty over East Jerusalem. Aren't you afraid that the European Union will criticize your actions?


"We are not afraid, that is the essence of freedom of speech. We have history on our side. Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 2000 years. History did not start 60 years ago. Many things have happened after 1967 as well. This is a sensitive matter and we support further discussion on the international position on it, but Jerusalem was unified and it belongs to Israel. That is my opinion."


Lilach Shoval contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.14.07, 03:34
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