TALLINN – Israel's Foreign Ministry told the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights that it did not want to meet with them, as the subcommittee's member Jaak Madison shares pro-Nazi views, Postimees reported, citing the Jerusalem Post.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry notified the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights that it would not meet with the group because it includes Estonian lawmaker Jaak Madison, leading to the trip's cancelation.
"We clarified to the heads of the committee that we will not agree to hold official meetings with members of parliament who express opinions inspired by the Nazi worldview," the Foreign Ministry said. "In the end, the committee chairman decided to cancel the visit to Israel."
The Jerusalem Post reported that in 2015, Madison wrote a blog post in which he said "it is true that there were concentration camps, forced labor camps, games with gas chambers…but at the same time, such strict order brought Germany at the time out of a thorough 's***hole'." He also called fascism "an ideology that consists of quite a few positive and necessary nuances to preserve the nation state."
On the delegation's schedule for this week was a meeting with Marwan Barghouti, a leader of the Tanzim terrorist group, who is serving five life sentences in Hadarim Prison for masterminding deadly terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada, though Israeli authorities ultimately denied them permission to meet with him.
The Subcommittee on Human Rights, led by Belgian socialist MEP Maria Arena, also planned to meet with Qaddura Fares, president of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which according to the Jerusalem Post represents scores of terrorists, as well as representatives of six Palestinian NGOs that Israel designated as terrorist organizations last year due to their extensive ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
MEP Karol Karski, of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, welcomed the decision, in light of the planned meetings with Barghouti and Fares.
"It is simply unacceptable for representatives of the European Parliament to meet with terrorists and their supporters," Karski said. "Terrorism and support for it can never be legitimized or accepted."
Karski said that "it would have been of particular concern" if a committee meant to protect human rights "had met with murderers and terrorists or their representatives, legitimizing them as interlocutors as a result."
Madison would not comment to Postimees on his blog post from ten years ago.
"As for the blog post from 2012, this topic was gone through in 2015 and there is no point in repeating myself," he said.
Madison also said he does not consider himself a Nazi sympathizer. Madison added that he has repeatedly expressed his support for Israel's right to self-defense and sovereignty.
"If they are interpreting my blog posts from a time when I was not even elected to a municipal council, then this is clearly overreaction and emotionalism of the highest order," he said.
"The most surprising thing is that the composition of this delegation was known for a year, but the problem arose on Wednesday evening, four days before the start of the trip," Madison said. According to him, communication with Israel was done orally and the delegation did not receive an official position.
He added, however, that it is unacceptable that the Israeli authorities dictate in advance which political groups suit them and which do not.