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European Parliament's delegation cancels trip after MEP barred from entering Israel

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By Alice Tidey
Spanish MEP Manu Pineda
Spanish MEP Manu Pineda   -   Copyright  Copyright: The Left

A European Parliament's delegation to Palestine was cancelled on Monday after Israel barred one of the MEPs from entering the country.

Far-left Spanish MEP Manu Pineda, President of the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with Palestine, on Sunday shared a letter he had received from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which they stated that "Mr Pineda's arrival to the State of Israel was not approved."

They cited "information received from the competent authorities in Israel" and said that "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Delegation of the European Union the assurance of its highest consideration."

Israeli authorities also barred the delegation from visiting the Gaza strip. 

Pineda said the delegation's mission was "cancelled".

According to a government official quoted by the Times of Israel newspaper, Pineda has been barred from entering Israel since 2020 because of meetings he has held with Palestinian organisations including Addameer and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Israel considers both to be terrorist outfits with the US and EU also designating the PFLP as a terrorist organisation.

Human rights NGOs including Amnesty International and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have however criticised the designation for Addameer.

Several other members of the delegation have expressed outrage at Israel's decision to deny Pineda entry and to bar the delegation from visiting Gaza. 

Sweden MEP Evin Incir (S&D) argued that it is "unacceptable that the Israeli authorities control the borders of Palestine and once again deny access to elected representatives."

Margrete Auken, a Danish MEP (Green/ALE) described it as a "big scandal", adding that "Israel cannot decide who from the EU can travel to Palestine."

The Socialists and Democrats Group (S&D) in the Parliament labelled Israel's decision to bar Pineda entry "unjustified, outrageous and democratically unacceptable" and demanded that EP President Roberta Metsola, on an official visit to Israel, "fiercely protest" the move. 

"Business as usual cannot be tolerated," they added, also stressing that "Israeli authorities cannot dictate which Members are or are not allowed to visit Palestine."

Metsola said in a tweet that she regretted the decision and that she will "raise the issue directly with authorities concerned".

"Respect for MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good relations," she added.