Joint List MKs ask EU officials to condemn Nation-State Law
Arab MKs including Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi meet with EU foreign affairs chief and Luxembourg’s foreign minister to express concerns about contentious legislation, which they say harms Arab minority in Israel; In the meantime, Israeli settlers and Palestinians protest against BDS at a conference in Brussels; 'We are representing a true story of coexistence in the West Bank.'
At Mogherini’s request the discussion was closed to the media but at the end of the meeting, the Joint List party issued an official statement.
“At the meeting, Odeh expressed his concern about the implications of the Nation-State Law on the Arab minority in Israel and its violation of equal rights, and asked for condemnation from the European Union and for it to call for the law to be repealed," stressed the statement.
Odeh reportedly said during the meeting that the legislation undermines the peace process.
"The law starts with the words ‘Land of Israel’, which does not relate to the State of Israel within the 1967 borders, and includes the West Bank, and it undermines the attempt to reach peace between the two nations," he argued.
He also claimed that in Israel there is economic and social discrimination against the Arab population, and "incitement started by the prime minister and other officials against the Arab citizens."
MK Odeh concluded his words by thanking the EU official for her willingness to discuss the issue.
"I am grateful for Mogherini’s willingness to meet, even though there were those who tried to cancel it. I was pleased to discover that the foreign minister shares our concern and believes that the law harms first and foremost Arab citizens, but also democracy and the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state and a possibility of peace," Odeh exclaimed.
At the same time, the Joint List leadership met on Tuesday in Luxembourg with the country’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. During the meeting, MKs Ahmad Tibi, Jamal Zahalka, Yousef Jabareen, Masoud Ghanaim and Taleb Abu Arar demanded the EU condemns and acts against the Nation-State Law.
The MKs also demanded European assistance to Israeli Arabs, especially when it comes to the issue of students and the unrecognized villages in the Negev.
Luxembourg's foreign minister promised to review the requests, and at the same time expressed concern for the future of the two-state solution due to the continuation of the settlement construction.
"We emphasized to the minister that there is a joint agreement between Israel and the EU based on the values of justice, equality and democracy, which are negated by the Nation-State Law. The minister said that the values of democracy, equality and human rights must be implemented and respected for all," their statement said.
The Israeli Embassy in Brussels approached the Foreign Ministry in Luxembourg and tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to cancel the meeting. A diplomat in Luxembourg told the Joint List MKs about the Israeli attempt to intervene.
"They contacted us a few days ago and wondered why we were meeting with you and what is the subject of discussions, and hinted that it would be better not to hold the meeting, but Minister Asselborn insisted on it," stressed the diplomat.
MK Tibi described the intervention by Israel as crude and deviating from the authority of the Foreign Ministry, saying that "we will continue to meet with world leaders and explain our position."
In the meantime, an extraordinary conference was held in the European Union in Brussels, where for the first time, Israeli settlers and Palestinians gathered together to protest against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and encourage economic cooperation.
The conference was hosted by the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament organization, with 120 people participating in the event, including 20 members of the European Parliament and 10 ambassadors from various EU countries.
"I wonder why the Arab MKs are coming to the European Parliament?" said Bassam Eid, a Palestinian activist from Jericho.
"Why not the Syrian parliament? I think it's somewhat of a propaganda. These types of people are trying to push Israel into a corner, and every time they attempt it, they fail. The BDS movement uses Palestinians for political purposes and does not help them financially,” he lamented.
"We are representing a true story of coexistence in the West Bank," said Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council.
"Today, 25 years after the Oslo Accords, we can say that Oslo is dead. Every day we hear from local leaders in our region that the Palestinian Authority harms Arabs living in the West Bank,” he added.
“At this very moment, Arab MKs from Israel are meeting with EU Foreign Minister Mogherini. The foreign minister ignored a request for a meeting with us—settlers from the West Bank and Palestinians who came to promote regional coexistence in Israel. And that says it all,” Dagan concluded.