Pro-settler European Parliamentarians are upset that European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini didn’t meet with Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan last week, but did take time to speak with Joint Arab List party head Ayman Odeh.
“I learned that the High Representatives of the EU Federica Mogherini did refuse to meet the representatives of the Council of Judea and Samaria and also businessmen from both sides, the Israeli and the Palestinian side,” said MEP Bas Belder of the European Conservative and Reformist Group.
“I deplore refusing to meet with businessmen from both sides and the representatives of the Shomron Council,” Belder said. “The EU is always saying that it is in favor of a two state solution” if that is the case it “should speak to both sides,” he added.
Belder is the vice chair of the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with Israel.
He spoke after he attended an event last week hosted by a small caucus group of MEPs, called the Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament.
The group held a meeting in the EU Parliament building, with Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan, settler representatives from Samaria and a number of Palestinians, including activist Bassem Eid. Born in east Jerusalem, Eid is known for his harsh criticism of the Palestinian Authority. The group also included Israeli and Palestinian business people.
The Samaria Regional Council delegation, headed by Dagan had requested, but failed to receive a meeting with Mogherini.
Belder was one of a number of right-wing number MEPs who criticized Mogherini for refusing to meet with Dagan's delegation. The MEPs also took issue with her decision to meet with Odeh, an Israeli parliamentarian, who they charged had come to the EU to undermine the Jewish state.
The MEPs issued video statements on the matter to the Samaria Regional Council, which was then distributed to the media.
MEP Branislav Skripek of Slovakia, who is also from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, said the problem was not the Odeh meeting, but the absence of one with the Samaria group. “Even though the EU tries to play the role of arbitrary mediator between alien powers in the Middle East and Israel. It needs to be more objective.”
The European Union and Israel have strong economic and bilateral ties and it is Israel’s strongest trading partner. But it has no tolerance position on Israeli settlements and is highly critical of Israeli actions over the pre-1967 lines.
The Friends of Judea and Samaria caucus represents a small pocket of support for the settlements.
MEP Jiril Payne, of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group, said he had written a letter to Mogherini to express his support of Israel and came away with the impression that the EU was pro-Palestinian.
“The answer was for me very concerning. The answer was that the European Union has just only one politics, there will be no discussion about that. The EU will be basically supporting Palestinians,” Payne said.
Dagan said he was not surprised by Mogherini’s decision. "Unfortunately, today the European Union is led by radical leftists, who are prepared to fight Israel.”
Still, he said, he was pleased by the support he had begun to receive in the EU parliament and hoped it was part of a conceptual change in parliament. “This support is not taken for granted,” he said.
The European Parliament is comprised of the 751 members from the 28 EU states and is known for its pro-Palestinian stances.
An EU spokesperson said in response that Mogherini “meets with government representatives and parliamentarians of partner countries, both from government and opposition including Israel.”
In the past year Mogherini has met with a number of Israeli politicians including Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid, former Meretz party head Zahava Gal-On and former opposition leader Isaac Herzog who headed the Zionist Union party,
She also met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzahi HaNegbi.