Israel bars EU parliament member from entering the country

Officials cite Ana Miranda’s participation in the 2015 ‘Freedom Flotilla III’ attempt to break blockade of the Gaza Strip as reason for refusal

Ana Miranda speaks at a rally in Coruña, Spain, July 10, 2020. (Cristina Andina/Getty Images)
Ana Miranda speaks at a rally in Coruña, Spain, July 10, 2020. (Cristina Andina/Getty Images)

JTA — A member of the European Parliament was turned back at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on Tuesday and sent to her native Spain after she attempted to enter Israel on a diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli officials cited the fact that the politician, Ana Miranda, who represents the Galicia region, participated in a 2015 flotilla that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel imposes the blockade to prevent Hamas, the Islamic terror group that controls the Strip and avowedly seeks Israel’s destruction, from importing weaponry. Critics call the policy collective punishment.

Israeli law prohibits supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement from entering the country, and US Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were barred from visiting in 2019.

But Politico obtained emails sent earlier this month from Israel’s Foreign Ministry that granted Miranda permission to visit.

“It’s a diplomatic conflict [and] it’s intolerable that Israel exerts control over members of a delegation that’s going to Palestine, not going to Israel,” Miranda told Politico.

Roberta Metsola, president of the EU parliament, wrote on Twitter that she was “deeply disappointed” by the incident and “will be contacting Israel’s authorities to clarify what happened.”

Miranda, a member of the Greens/European Free Alliance group, was part of a delegation of eight EU lawmakers. Some had planned to visit Israel, while others planned to visit the West Bank. Politico reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry emails show that another proposed member of the delegation, Manu Pineda, was barred from entry over his alleged support of Hamas, the group that rules Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the EU. Pineda denies supporting Hamas, but he did not attempt to visit after his request was denied.

“Respect for all elected MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good EU-Israel relations,” Nabila Massrali, the European Commission’s spokesperson for foreign affairs, told Politico. “This decision is deeply disappointing.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this article.

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