In a sign of growing European support for Israel, an unusually high number of European Union parliamentary members attended a pro-Israel policy conference.
Nearly 1,000 statesmen from 27 European countries participated in the European Friends of Israel conference Nov. 6-7 in Paris, according to reports.
"This is an unprecedented event," a European Friends of Israel official told the Israeli news site Ynet. "Just this week it was reported that MPs in Brussels invited a Hamas delegation to visit, and Israel’s response is a massive gathering of supporters here in Paris."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also met with Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik on Nov. 6 to reassure Israel that France would stand firm on Iran and continue efforts to free a French-Israeli soldier. Gilad Shalit has been held captive by Hamas since a 2006 cross-border kidnapping. His father, Noam, also spoke Nov. 6 at the conference.
The European Jewish Press reported that Shalit urged European leaders to "please use your leverage and influence to work for the release of Gilad before it is too late."
At a dinner packed with EU parliamentarians, Noam Shalit reportedly said, "We are more and more worried about Gilad’s fate. We cannot wait while Hamas is in no hurry."