Leading candidate in EU election calls for immediate Gaza ceasefire, lashes ‘extreme-right’ Netanyahu government

Europe’s Socialists launched their campaign for June’s European Parliament elections in Rome on Saturday, with the leading center-left’s candidate for the European Commission presidency calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and launching into a scathing assault of the Netanyahu government.

Luxembourg’s Nicolas Schmit is running against incumbent Ursula von der Leyen, who is expected to campaign again for the job.

In an address Saturday, he said it was “our duty to urge for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza,” and accused the far-right, right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu of attempting to “abolish” Israeli democracy with its pre-October 7 plans to overhaul the judicial system and curb the High Court’s independent powers.

He went on to say that “members of the government also killed the peace process in ’95” and “killed the peace process by first killing our friend Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,” Schmit said, of the late premier who was assassinated by an extremist Jewish activist who was opposed to the 1993 Oslo Accords and the handing over of control of parts of the West Bank to the Palestinians as a part of a landmark peace agreement.

Netanyahu has been repeatedly accused by the left over the years of encouraging incitement that led to Rabin’s killing, or at the very least of contributing to the incendiary political climate that led to the murder. He has rejected such claims as “attempts to distort the historical truth” and has denied responsibility for the incitement that led to the killing.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir first captured national attention when he was filmed as a teen boasting about stealing an emblem from Rabin’s car a short time before the assassination.

Schmit said he was a “great friend of Israel, but I never forget that this government … is a far-right, extreme-right government.”

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