Israeli Officials Pressured EU Chief to Cancel Meeting With MK Odeh

Israeli officials pressured the European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in recent weeks to cancel her meeting with Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) regarding the racist Nation-State Law. Haaretz claimed the Israeli officials tried to convince Mogherini to have a lower-level EU official meet with Odeh in her stead.

MK Odeh and the European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels

MK Odeh and the European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels (Photo: Al Ittihad)

However, the sources say, Moghernini said she would meet with representatives of the Joint List as she had with other Knesset parties, and hear from them about issues involving Arab citizens in Israel. Mogherini’s office noted that she meets on a regular basis with representatives of government and parliaments, including the opposition, and that Israel was not unusual in this regard.

Joint List MKs, among them Odeh, Aida Touma-Sliman and Youssef Jabareen from Hadash, are lobbying EU officials in Brussels against the law and the discriminatory policy of the Netanyahu government. Odeh met with foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday, August 28, her office said.

Odeh ask Mogherini to try to compel Israel to cancel the law and see that it is condemned in international forums, including the United Nations. The meeting was set after the Nation-State Law passed one of its first phases of legislation in the Knesset in May.

“We have three days filled with meetings with ambassadors and ministers in the European Union, including Mogherini,” Odeh told Haaretz, speaking from Brussels. “We are going to ask the European Union to intervene with the Israeli government to cancel the law.” Odeh said the European Union has ways of working against the law, mainly by using trade agreements and cooperative ventures with the EU, in which Israel is pledged to respect human rights and democratic values.

Odeh rejected criticism that the Joint List’s meetings with international officials about the Nation-State Law undermined the state. “My colleagues and I are not working to undermine the state, but to undermine Netanyahu’s government and an apartheid law like the Nation-State Law,” he said.  “When a woman encounters violence in the family, she turns to outside law enforcement officials like the police.” Odeh said he “wants to strengthen peace, and suppress the occupation and racism, and I believe that this serves both peoples.”

MK Jabareen told the Jerusalem Post that the reason the overture of his faction to the EU was important was because in cooperation agreements between Israel and the EU, Israel committed itself to respect human rights and democratic values. “We see this bill as a gross violation of these agreements, so we will be asking the EU to use all the tools at its disposal to end this violation,” Jabareen said. “Israel can to no longer boast to the world that it is the only democracy in the Middle East when it is enacting racist legislation and building an apartheid regime.” Jabareen said the Joint List MKs would also complain about other racist steps by the far-right Israeli government.