Statement from Vice-Chair Dr. Fiorello Provera from the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council’s mission to the West Bank and East Jerusalem
In late October the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council went on a three-day mission to the West Bank and East Jerusalem. During the visit some members of the delegation chose to attend a homecoming reception in Ramallah for 26 Palestinian prisoners who were released from Israeli Government as part of a goodwill gesture to help restart peace negotiations.
While the delegates chose to celebrate with the newly-released prisoners, I wonder if any of my colleagues was informed about the atrocities these men committed. For example, Matslah Abdallah Salama murdered Iraqi-born Reuven David at his mini-market by tying him up and beating him to death; Abu-Musa Salam Ali Atia murdered 67-year-old Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenburg with an axe while the retired man was doing manual work; Sha’at Aazat Shaba’an Aataf killed 51-year-old Simcha Levi, while she was helping to drive Palestinian labourers to work, but was then beaten and stabbed to death; Abdel-Aal Sayid Ouda Yusef murdered 30-year-old Ian Sean Feinberg, who was working in the Gaza strip as a legal advisor, but was gunned down, leaving three children fatherless; Raai Ibrahim Salam Ali attacked and killed 79 year-old Morris Aizenshtat with an axe while the man sat reading on a park bench.
Each of the 26 men has their own story of assassination to tell. Many of their victims were ordinary Israelis who were trying to make a living. Many of them were old and caught defenseless. Although these men were released as a goodwill gesture, they are still criminals.
The Members of the European Parliament who attended the reception in Ramallah brought the EU and its values into disrepute because the endorsement and support of convicted criminals is not acceptable and undermine the credibility of the EU as an honest broker.
The risk is that a truly goodwill gesture meant to facilitate the Peace Process becomes the occasion for someone to glorify common criminals.