Four European envoys to the UN pulled out of a visit to the Western Wall led by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan after receiving a directive from Brussels not to participate given that the EU doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem.
Envoys from Italy, Slovenia and Romania followed the order, as did the ambassador to Moldova, which is not an EU member but is closely aligned with Romania.
The tour through the Old City and the Western Wall went ahead with seven other ambassadors from Serbia, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Costa Rica, Belize and Georgia.
A representative from the US Mission to the UN has also been traveling with the delegation, but he bowed out of the Old City tour, having already visited the Western Wall before. Another ambassador from Malta was also supposed to be on Friday’s tour but had not arrived in Israel yet.
Erdan blasted their “cowardly” decision, saying in a statement that it only strengthened his resolve “to reveal our truth.”
“The visit of the ambassadors that I am leading to Israel is part of my war in the UN to expose the lies of the Palestinians and their attempt to erase our thousand-year-old connection to Jerusalem,” he said.
While Israel annexed East Jerusalem, including the Old City after capturing it in the 1967 Six Day War, most of the international community hasn’t recognized the step. Former US president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and several countries have followed the US in moving their embassies there. However, none have taken a position on the borders of the city, and Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
In total, 13 ambassadors are part of the delegation led by Erdan. The group started their trip in the UAE, led by UAE Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibah, and met with President Mohammed bin Zayed.
While in Israel, the UN envoys will meet with President Isaac Herzog, prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Yad Vashem and tour a Hezbollah terror tunnel on the northern border with IDF officials.