European Parliament Delegation Blocked from Entering Knesset

A delegation from the European Union Parliament was denied entry into the Knesset Tuesday, Arab Joint List party MKs claim, forcing them to hold a meeting with radical Arab MKs outside the Knesset grounds.

"MKs Yousef Jabareen and Aida Touma-Suleiman were forced to hold the meeting with members of the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights outside of the Knesset building, after Knesset Speaker demanded the presence of a Knesset political adviser," the party wrote in a statement.

MK Jabareen slammed the conditions as "unacceptable."

"It is unacceptable to prevent Members of Knesset from holding a meeting in their own faction room without the presence of a Knesset representative," he said. "We are talking about sensitive political discussions, and understandably discussions like these should allow for the absence of unwanted representatives."

Following the meeting, which took place outside the Knesset, the EU delegation also met with various other MKs inside the Knesset building, including Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud).

However the Knesset has rebuffed the Arab List's claims, noting that it is standard Knesset practice to require MKs to coordinate visiting delegations with Knesset staff and have them accompanied by a political adviser or other senior Knesset official. 

It should be noted that the official in question is an apolitical senior civil servant, with no party loyalties, whose job is to coordinate logistical aspects of the visits by foreign delegations.

"The refusal, not for the first time, by the MKs from the Joint List to (allow the) presence of the (Knesset) political adviser, is extraordinary and not acceptable," the Knesset said in a statement. "Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein stood by the rule that if it was not possible to hold the meeting this morning according to Knesset conventions, then it ceases to be an official Knesset faction meeting, and therefore it has no place within the (Knesset) grounds."

In a statement, the Speaker's office said that during his meeting with the EU delegation Edelstein had explained why they were blocked from entering, and that the EU delegation had "understood the position of the Knesset Speaker."

Precisely why the Arab List MKs would object to the presence of an independent Knesset representative is not clear, but far-left and Arab activists have often worked with European officials to challenge or undermine official Israeli government policies.


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