Friday, 13 Dec 2019 - 15 of Kislev, 5780

US-Israel-EU friendship group launched in the European Parliament

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Chaired by Austrian MEP Likas Mandl from the European People’s Party (EPP) political group, it is the first-ever cross-party friendship caucus specifically committed to strengthening the trilateral partnership between the U.S., Israel, and  the EU.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, sent written statements of strong bipartisan support for the initiative.

BRUSSELS —Brussels-based AJC Transatlantic Institute launched this week an  inter-parliamentary “Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI)” group in the European Parliament.

Chaired by Austrian MEP Likas Mandl from the European People’s Party (EPP) political group, it is the first-ever cross-party friendship caucus specifically committed to strengthening the trilateral partnership between the U.S., Israel, and  the EU.

Coming only a week after the newly elected European Parliament took office in Strasbourg, Mandl, who co-hosted the kick-off event with German MEP Dietmar Köster (S&D) and Belgian MEP Frédérique Ries (Renew Europe), urged his fellow parliamentarians to help bolster ties with the Jewish state and combat Jerusalem’s isolation in international fora like the United Nations.

“I consider the transatlantic alliance with Israel—a global leader in technology, defense and innovation—one of the most important issues of our time. This trilateral partnership, based on shared Western values, interests and history, is crucial for our collective security and prosperity,” he said.

The standing-room only audience of some 60 people included 25 MEPs from 13 countries, representing four of the five major political groups.

Israel’s ambassador to the European Union and NATO, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, and Christina Tomlinson, the chargé d’affairs of the U.S. Mission to the European Union, delivered special addresses to the gathering.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, sent written statements of strong bipartisan support for the initiative.

In his written statement, Rubio highlighted that America’s close alliance with the State of Israel enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress: “Given Israel’s military and technological prowess, closer strategic relations have significantly advanced American national security interests and values, and also ought to be as much in Europe’s interests as in Israel’s.”

Echoing her Senate colleague, Lowey wished the group great success: “I was delighted to learn about AJC’s new ‘Transatlantic Friends of Israel’ inter-parliamentary friendship group. With a clear set of common interests and values, this trilateral project could not have come soon enough. As this group continues to grow and expand, I look forward to working together to pursue our agenda of partnership and friendship.”

The cross-party friendship caucus specifically committed to strengthening the trilateral partnership between the U.S., Israel, and the EU is chaired by Austrian MEP Likas Mandl from the European People’s Party (EPP) political group.

Ambassador Leshno-Yaar expressed his full support for the group’s activities: „Europe, the U.S. and Israel are challenged by forces that are hostile to our values and way of life. We can, we must work together, to find common solutions to those challenges,” he said.

Christina Tomlinson, who represented U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland who was out of country, said: “That just a few days after taking office you would take the time and make the commitment to be here speaks volumes about your dedication to the transatlantic relationship and your willingness to have an open and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel.”

 

“Today, individual liberty, democracy, and national sovereignty are the cornerstones of American, European, and Israeli societies.  We look forward to working with the ‘Transatlantic Friends of Israel’ and our friends and partners in the EU to continue to foster these ideals on both sides of the Atlantic,” she added.

AJC Transatlantic Institute director Daniel Schwammenthal stressed that the  impressive turn-out at the launch of the ‘Transatlantic Friends of Israel’ ‘’is a powerful message to the E.U. to strengthen and deepen this vital trilateral partnership.’’

“Israel ought to be understood as an integral part of the West which is less a geographical concept than a community of shared values and interests.”

He continued, “With its first-class security services, cutting-edge high-tech sector and thriving knowledge-based economy, Europe and the U.S. couldn’t ask for a better partner to tackle today’s challenges, from rising extremism and terrorism to radical regimes and nuclear proliferation.”

One of new group’s vice chairs, Lithuanian MEP Petras Auštrevičius, explained that the group will promote a more balanced treatment of Israel within the European Union: “It’s astonishing that the European Union has in recent months held Association Councils with Egypt, Morocco and other Arab countries, but not with Israel, the Middle East’s only liberal democracy. This unfair treatment hurts not just Israeli but also European interests.”

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