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International parliamentarians tour West Bank settlements, meet Israeli officials

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely on 1 May 2017 [Tzipi Hotovely /Facebook]
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely on 1 May 2017 [Tzipi Hotovely /Facebook]

More than two dozen parliamentarians from around the world toured West Bank settlements on Sunday, and met with senior Israeli officials.

The 26 members of parliament from 15 countries were visiting as part of a conference organised by the Israel Allies Foundation, in partnership with the World Jewish Congress, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and Bridges for Peace.

Participants went to Har Bracha settlement in the occupied West Bank, where they heard speeches by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and senior settler official Yossi Dagan.

The parliamentarians subsequently heard talks by former minister Gideon Sa’ar, current minister Gila Gamliel, and bipartisan members of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus.

#Settlements

The politicians signed a resolution celebrating the Balfour Declaration centenary, and “condemning the antisemitic misrepresentation of Israel as an occupier”.

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel praised the parliamentarians for their efforts to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, telling them: “You are on the right side of history. “Enough [of being] politically correct. Let us be biblically correct”.

The conference resolution also urged governments “to adopt the US State Department’s and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism and thereby recognize that anti-Israel/Zionist expression can be used as a means to convey anti-Jewish bigotry”.

At the event in Har Bracha, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely criticised US President Donald Trump’s decision to delay moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

“If you would really like to give peace a chance, move your embassy to Jerusalem in order to make sure that Jerusalem will never be divided; in order to make sure that Jews and Arabs can live peacefully together”.

Settler leader Dagan, meanwhile, told the delegates that their “visit proves that the words ‘political isolation’ are becoming irrelevant”.

Parliamentarians came from Romania, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia, Finland, Malawi, South Africa, Australia, the Ivory Coast, Uruguay, Brazil and Guatemala.

The delegates also included Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-South Carolina), who told Israeli media: “I don’t understand how a Jew can be an illegal occupier of Judea any more than an Arab can be an illegal occupier of Arabia”.

Welcoming the visit, Israel Allies Foundation president Josh Reinstein said: “Men and women of faith in parliaments around the world are standing with Israel like never before. The Israel Allies Foundation is hosting this policy conference so that we can harness that political support and turn it into real political action”.

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