Amid controversy, European Parliament president touches down in Israel

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola (left) shakes hands with Yisrael Beytenu MK Yossi Shain after arriving in Israel on May 22, 2022. (Courtesy)
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola (left) shakes hands with Yisrael Beytenu MK Yossi Shain after arriving in Israel on May 22, 2022. (Courtesy)

Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, lands in Israel for a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This is the first visit by an EP president since 2014.

Metsola, a Maltese politician, is slated to speak in front of the Knesset tomorrow, and to meet with President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and other officials during her trip. She will also visit Yad Vashem, and she is scheduled to pay a visit to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

“President Metsola is expected to bring with her a message of hope, a call to strengthen relations with both Israel and the Palestinians, and to offer the goodwill and resources of the European Parliament to restart the Middle East peace process,” reads a statement by the European Union Delegation to Israel.

Metsola is met at Ben Gurion Airport by Israel’s Envoy to the EU Haim Regev, EU’s Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev and Yisrael Beytenu MK Yossi Shain, the head of the Knesset delegation for relations with the European Parliament.

Metsola’s visit, however, begins amid controversy.

On Thursday, the Foreign Ministry informed the EU delegation in Israel that European Parliamentarian Manu Pineda, a Spanish communist politician and chair of the EP Delegation for Relations with Palestine, would be barred from entering Israel on a separate visit by his delegation. In protest, all members of the small delegation canceled their visit.

Metsola publicly airs her disapproval of Israel’s decision, tweeting that she “will raise the issue directly with authorities concerned.”

“Respect for MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good relations,” she continues.

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