(JTA) – Sixty European Parliament lawmakers have asked the European Union’s foreign affairs chief to cut funding for organizations that support boycotts against Israel.
In a letter sent earlier this week, the lawmakers from four political groups called on Federica Mogherini to ensure “that no public funds go to organizations calling for a boycott of the State of Israel, and to instruct agencies not to engage with companies, organizations or other entities involved with the BDS movement,” an acronym for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Cristian Dan Preda of Romania, the foreign affairs coordinator for the largest political group in the parliament, the European People’s Party, underlined in a statement about the letter his party’s opposition to calls for the suspension of the bilateral agreements with Israel.
“It’s in the interest of this House, and of our citizens, to see an upgrade in the partnership agreement with Israel,” he said. “We should not allow the current stalemate in the peace process to dictate the terms of our relationship with Israel.”
Lars Adaktusson, a co-signer from Sweden, said that “the Union, and the Parliament, are in danger of being deemed irrelevant as a peace broker if they fail to address the incitement on its own soil against Israel.”
Ioan Mircea Pascu, a vice president of the European Parliament, also co-signed the letter, which urged Mogherini to “address the incitement to hatred and violence and discriminatory practice of calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel.”
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, founder of the Europe Israel Public Affairs organization and director of the European Jewish Association, said the initiative shows that Israel has many friends in Brussels despite its sometimes strained relationship with the European Union.
“Israel sometimes feels misunderstood by Europe, and this leads to a further strain on the relations. The European Parliament takes pride in its diversity,” he said, “and we are glad to see such a wide support for investment, rather than divestment, from something that has been for more than three decades a mutually advantageous bilateral relation.”