Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Israelís participation in Community programmes

Delivered in Plenary - 3rd December 2008

Mr President

As rapporteur of reports on the ENP, I have long supported Israelís increased involvement in EU programmes and agencies, which is mutually beneficial, given Israelís advanced status as a country in areas such as scientific and in particular environmental research. In recent weeks I have received many e-mails asking me to vote against this EU-Israel enhanced cooperation agreement. However, I believe that the EU and Israel are natural partners because they share the same values: democracy, the rule of law and personal freedom, and in particular a free press and independent judiciary.

Not all the EU strategic partners can say the same. China, for example Ė dear to the Presidentís heart I know Ė rejects those values, but strangely I do not receive many pleas to downgrade the EUís relationship with Beijing. That is because, sadly, the anti-Israel element amongst the public and in this House remains strong. When that sentiment is based on reasoning, I can respect it, even if I do not agree. Often though it is based on anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, as the US is Israelís closest ally.

Last week in India Jews were specifically sought out in Mumbai to be murdered by Jihadi terrorists. This demonstrates the need for the West to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the Jewish State, as Israel is on the frontline of an existentialist battle with Islamist terrorists such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, who have proved their determination to destroy Israel and our way of life.

The European Parliament regrettably narrowly voted today not to give its opinion on this agreement Ė dear to the incoming Czech Presidency Ė which in my mind is disastrous and will send all the wrong signals to the Israeli public during a critical electoral period and will inevitably strengthen the hands of hardliners in Israel.