During a visit to Israel this week, the president of the European Parliament reaffirmed the continent’s commitment to fight anti-Semitism and the belief that Israel has a right to exist.
President Roberta Metsola stressed that anti-Semitism is not a European value and that the European Union would seek to combat it.
“It pains me to say that, today we are seeing anti-Semitism on the rise,” Metsola said. “We know that that is a warning sign for humanity. It matters to all of us. I will not be ambiguous: To be antisemitic is to be anti-European. Every day, we still witness attacks on Jews, on synagogues. The European Parliament is committed to breaking the cycle, to combating anti-Semitism.”
The visit is the first by a president of the European Parliament in Israel since 2014 and, for Metsola, it was her first-ever visit to the Jewish state. During her visit, Metsola spoke at Tel Aviv University and the Knesset, where she addressed Israel’s right to exist and the EU’s support for a two-state solution.
“Let me be clear: Europe will always back Israel’s right to exist,” she said. “We support a two-state solution – with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security.”
Metsola said the Abraham Accords are proof that peace between Jews and Arabs is possible.
“The Abraham Accords may well have seemed inconceivable only a short while ago, but they proved that history does not always have to be repeated. That the cycle can indeed be broken,” she said.
On Monday, Metsola addressed the Knesset. Prior to her speech, Speaker of the Knesset MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) asked her “to condition donations to the Palestinian Authority upon the cessation of incitement.”
“For about two months, Israel has been in the midst of a wave of terrorism fueled by severe incitement against Jews and against Israel,” Levy told Metsola. “Unfortunately, it connects to institutionalized and permanent incitement that we are witnessing in textbooks in the Palestinian Authority that are also funded by the European Union.”
The European Union is one of the largest donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA), providing more than €818 million ($872 million) in humanitarian assistance alone to the PA since 2000. It currently provides the PA with about €214 million ($228 million) in annual aid.
“This terror wave, like many before it, is the result of hatred and incitement that are disseminated against the State of Israel,” Levy said in his speech during the special Knesset session honoring Metsola.
“It starts with the textbooks in the Palestinian Authority, which erase the existence of the State of Israel; anti-Semitic lies about Jews are spread, and there are explicit calls for violence; it continues with the money the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists for killing innocent people, while it receives donations and large amounts of money, also from the European Union.”
“The State of Israel expects from you, Madam President, and from all the members of the European Union, to stand by it in the face of these dangerous phenomena, which fuel terror and murder and will never allow us to bring about a solution to the conflict,” Levy continued. “You have the power to influence and [protect] the younger generation from incitement in schools that is carried out with your money.”
Metsola began her visit to Israel on Sunday with a stop at Tel Aviv University, where she told students that she would advocate for strengthened ties between Israel and the EU.
“I think there is so much we can do together,” she said. “I will take this message with me and pass it on to leaders.”
She discussed a variety of issues with students, including academic freedom, rising anti-Semitism around the world and in Europe, climate change, regional geopolitics, immigration and Russia’s war on Ukraine. She also answered a question about the Middle East conflict to which she responded: “My position is the position of the European Parliament – we uphold that peace remains the objective. Our message is one of peace and against violence.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.