S&D members aim to strengthen dialogue with the Palestinian Arab community in Israel
S&D members met with representatives of the Palestinian Arab community today and discussed the prospects of strengthening relations.
S&D Group vice-president Victor Boştinaru said after the meeting:
“We are deeply concerned about the new wave of escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians over the past weeks. We strongly condemn all acts of violence against civilians, express our condolences to the families of the victims, and call for an immediate de-escalation of the situation.
“Arab citizens of Israel – with the Joint Arab List as the third political force in the Knesset – have a huge potential to play an important role in achieving peace in the Middle East. We aim to strengthen our dialogue with political representatives of this community, including through an invitation to Joint Arab List leaders to Brussels.
“We continue to support the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This two-state solution must guarantee full respect for the dignity and for the individual and collective rights of ethnic and religious minorities, as equal citizens of their countries, in both states.”
Richard Howitt MEP, S&D Group’s foreign affairs coordinator and chair of Parliament’s Working Group on the Middle East and North Africa said:
“We are facing a new situation today with daily clashes between Jewish Israeli and Palestinian citizens, which must not be ignored. Moreover, the disruptions to the status quo of the holy sites is adding a religious layer to these tensions, creating an extremely dangerous situation.
“All acts of incitement, provocation and hate speech must immediately be stopped, while the right to access to religious sites must be fully respected in the spirit of freedom of religion.
“Arab citizens of Israel are an essential part of the Middle East jigsaw. If this part is lost, the picture will never be complete. Therefore, we urge the Israeli government to work towards their broader integration into the country’s social fabric. We also encourage the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Israel to include meetings with representatives of this community in the programme of their upcoming visit to the country in November 2015.”