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EU delegation to Gaza cancels trip after chair denied entry to Israel

Ireland South MEP Grace O’Sullivan, who was one of the delegates, criticised the decision.

Irish MEP Grace O'Sullivan was one of the delegates due to travel to Palestine via Tel Aviv.
Irish MEP Grace O'Sullivan was one of the delegates due to travel to Palestine via Tel Aviv.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated May 22nd 2022, 6:25 PM

AN EU DELEGATION to Palestine has cancelled its trip after its chair was denied entry to Gaza by Israeli authorities.

A group of six MEPs, including Irish MEPs Grace O’Sullivan and Chris MacManus, was due to travel to Palestine via the Israeli city of Tel Aviv today, but the group’s chair Manu Pineda was last night informed that authorities in Israel had moved to prevent their entry.

O’Sullivan said that “we took a decision that the Israeli authorities shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose who they wanted to come” and cancelled the trip. The Ireland South representative told The Journal that she was in line to board the plane when the decision was taken not to travel. “It’s not right for the Israeli authorities to just pick and choose who they allow [to] come out on these official delegations.”

The delegation had been due to examine the situation on the ground after the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. O’Sullivan met Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid, the ambassador to Palestine, this afternoon and signed a book of condolences for the veteran reporter. She added that she would support sanctions against Israel: “We have talked in Ireland [about] whether we should be importing foods from the occupied territories – maybe it’s time to consider that again.”

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola is due to visit Israel and Palestine in the coming days.

The Journal has contacted the Israeli embassy for comment.

Chris MacManus, another of the six delegates who represents the Midlands Northwest constituency, told The Journal that the move was “a direct interference with the work of the European Parliament”.

“it shouldn’t be tolerated. It will require serious discussion on the coming days. We need to see a firm diplomatic response coming from European Union.”

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In 2016, Israeli authorities refused access to Gaza for a working group of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Palestine. No justification was given to explain the refusal.

The EU is the Palestinian Authority’s largest single donor and the bulk of its humanitarian aid goes to Gaza to help meet the basic needs of the Palestinian population.

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