Israel is reportedly trying to persuade a group of 15 European legislators from seven countries to cancel a planned visit to Tehran later this month.
Iranian media reported on Monday that the 15 members of the European Parliament were planning a visit. Israeli media said Tuesday that Israel was working to have the visit canceled.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday with European ambassadors to Israel, and praised the latest EU sanctions on Iran while noting that sanctions had not yet prompted Iran to halt its nuclear drive.
Israel tried unsuccessfully earlier this summer to discourage nations from participating in a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, and Netanyahu personally implored UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon not to attend, but was rebuffed.
The Iranian state-sponsored Fars News Agency said the 15 EU legislators would begin a six-day visit on October 27.
However, European Parliament Vice-President Alejo Vidal-Quadras called for the cancellation of the trip, telling a conference in Brussels Tuesday that “We in Europe should not send mixed messages to the Iranian regime” and that “any formal delegation from the European Parliament or any national parliament in Europe to Iran will be extremely counterproductive.”
“Whatever good intentions our colleagues may have,” New Europe Online quoted the Spanish MEP Vidal-Quadras as saying, “such visits would give credit to the mullahs and is completely for the benefit of the Iranian regime to justify the repression, violation of human rights and export of fundamentalism and terrorism.”
B’nai B’rith International also objected to the planned trip, with President Allan J. Jacobs saying, “Going over there with the intention of ‘bridge building’ is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Instead the EU must continue to press Iran to hold its government accountable for efforts to create nuclear weapons.”