Estonian MPs confirm desire to strengthen relations during Israel visit

  • 2024-03-01
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Kalev Stoicescu, chairman of the Estonian parliament's national defense committee, Meelis Kiili, member of the national defense committee, and Eerik-Niiles Kross, chairman of the Estonia-Israel parliamentary group, were on a visit to Israel this week, where they affirmed the desire to strengthen relations with Israel.

The MPs were in Israel from Sunday to Thursday as part of an international delegation, which also included representatives of Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, France and the United States.

The delegation met with members of the Israeli parliament and high-ranking representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council, who gave them an overview of the circumstances surrounding the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 last year and the goals and prospects of Israel's military operation.

According to Stoicescu, representatives of Estonia and other Baltic states raised issues related to Russian aggression at the meetings and drew parallels between the terrorist Hamas and Putin's Russia.

"Israel has so far not provided lethal aid to Ukraine, but that may change," the chairman of the national defense committee said.

According to him, the representatives of Estonia also drew the hosts' attention to the aggressive Russian propaganda channels that are broadcast freely in Israel, the transmission of which is restricted or prohibited in Europe.

"The representatives of the Baltic states and Israel agreed on the need to strengthen mutual contacts in the future to exchange information and discuss the situation," Stoicescu said.

During the visit, the delegation visited the Erez crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip, which was the first to be attacked by Hamas on the morning of Oct. 7, and the Kfar Aza kibbutz, as well as the Nova concert venue, where hundreds of people were murdered and raped.

"In the course of Israel's military operation, many civilians in the Gaza Strip have been injured and killed, and many Western allies have demanded that Israel minimize civilian casualties as much as possible, given the specifics of the operation, that is, Hamas members hiding among civilians," Stoicescu said.

According to him, however, it must be noted that the support for Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank of the Jordan River is very high -- according to polls, over 60 and 80 percent, respectively.

"Palestinians must understand that Hamas is not made up of freedom fighters, but of brutal terrorists whose aim is not to have a normally functioning country -- Palestine -- but to kill people, specifically Jews," Stoicescu said.

He added that the Palestinians have the right to their own state, but not to a terrorist organization.

During the visit, the international delegation also visited the production units of the Israeli space industry, which produce cutting-edge drones, aircraft, missile systems, space rockets and satellites.

The visit was organized by the European Leadership Network, an organization that promotes relations between Europe and Israel.