An exhibition of drawings titled "When the Shark and the Fish First Met" and based on a story written by Gilad Shalit when he was 11-years-old opened on Monday at the European Parliament in Brussels. The purpose of the exhibition, which will be on display for one week, is to attract international attention to the plight of the captive soldier.
The exhibition was inaugurated in a special ceremony in the presence of senior European Parliament officials, parliament members and other invitees.
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The Chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Gabriele Albertini spoke at the launch, as did European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, who said that from his point of view, Shalit “is a citizen of the European Union" and added that his concern for Gilad was like the concern he had for one of his own children.
Buzek noted that he felt like Gilad was part of the European family and called on Hamas to release him immediately.
The man behind the exhibition, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, also took part in the ceremony as did two of his deputies – Knesset Member Ofir Akunis (Likud) and MK Ya'akov Edri (Kadima). MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) was also present.
'Gilad not subject of conflict'
Gilad's story focuses on a shark and a fish that weren't supposed to live side by side and yet in spite of their parents' opposition, preferred to live in harmony rather than be enemies, MK Nahaman Shai explained while calling on the European Parliament to use its influence to bring about the soldier's release.
Rivlin said that "Gilad Shalit is not the subject of the conflict, it is a matter of values that we in the free world all share and we appreciate the parliament's initiative in hosting the exhibition." During his visit the speaker will meet with NATO's secretary general, the president of the European Parliament and the president of the Belgian senate.
Israel's Ambassador to the EU, Ya'akov Hadas said that "the Knesset Speaker's visit at the European Parliament and NATO is an indication of the importance Israel ascribes to its relationship with the European Union. One of the points brought up by the speaker were the implementation of the bilateral agreements approved by the Knesset and now delayed by the European Parliament."
Israel's delegate to the European Parliament David Saranga said, "Our goal next year is to expand the dialogue with members of the parliament so that Israel is not only tied to a political and diplomatic dimension, but also to topics related to innovation, environment, economics and more."
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