European Coalition for Israel was founded in 2003 in order to give Christians in Europe a platform to express their support for Israel through prayer, education and advocacy. Each month we send out progress reports on how this work is carried out in the political arena, as well as in Christian communities. We need you - in prayer and financial giving - to help us complete the mission. Join the movement!

ECI hands over Open letter to the EU Middle East Chief
- Time to revise EU policy in the disputed territories

Brussels – As the five-year term for the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, comes to an end and peace talks falter, the EU needs seriously to review its policies concerning the disputed territories. This is the message in an Open Letter signed by 42 prominent political leaders in Europe, among them the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, Fiorello Provera, and the Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the Knesset, MEP Bas Belder. The letter proves that ECI’s concerns are shared by a large group of political leaders in Europe, covering a wide political spectrum in eleven EU member states.

ECI is not the only group to raise concerns about the biased approach of the EU in the Israeli-Arab conflict. In a groundbreaking Op-Ed in Wall Street Journal last week, the Chair of the European Parliament Budget Control Committee, Michael Theurer, asks why the Palestinian Authority is the only body receiving EU funds, regardless of its human rights record and economic performance.

ECI has been in continuous contact with the office of MEP Theurer and other MEPs during their five-year term in the European Parliament. We are pleased that our message is now starting to show results. Thank you for standing with us to get this message out to our European leaders in time for the upcoming EU elections.

Palestinian Human Rights seminar takes place in Swedish Parliament despite media campaign to stop it

Stockholm – Swedish aid to the Palestinian Authority came under new scrutiny as the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) and European Coalition for Israel organised a Palestinian Human Rights seminar in the Swedish Parliament on Thursday, April 10th. Despite a well-planned media campaign by a Palestinian journalist at the national news agency TT to discredit the main speaker, Calev Myers, and attempts to intimidate the organising committee, the seminar was able to take place as planned.

At the seminar, Chief Counsel Calev Myers of JIJ, spoke about the well-documented human rights violations inside the Palestinian territories and the lack of fundamental freedoms and human dignity for the Palestinian people. Based on solid research, he showed how the biggest threat to Palestinian human rights is not from the Israeli Government, but from the Palestinian leaders themselves. Palestinians who happen to “like” the wrong Facebook update may end up in jail and journalists who dare to criticise the Palestinian Authority are banned from entering their territory.

His message was unexpectedly backed up by the article of the Chairman of the EP Budgetary Committee, Michael Theurer, which appeared in the paper the very same day!

The seminar, which was hosted by Swedish MP Annelie Enochson, was well attended by members of parliament, as well as press and Palestinian activists. In his remarks, ECI Founding Director, Tomas Sandell, pointed out that the aim of the seminar was to enhance the human rights situation for the Palestinian people by making their own leaders more accountable.

Although the seminar was a great success, it also illustrated the current anti-Israel climate in Sweden and how any voice opposing the Palestinian narrative is being targeted with the aim of shutting it down. The seminar proves that more work is needed in Sweden and the other Nordic countries. With your financial help we are willing to take on the challenge. Please let us know if you wish to support our advocacy work in the Nordic countries with an earmarked financial gift?

ECI challenges new parliament in Norway
- Time for Norway to change course in the Middle East

Oslo - Norway continues to be one of the most influential countries in the Middle East peace process. But whereas Norwegian influence in the past has been problematic the new centre-right government could become more balanced.

Six months after Norway’s new government was installed, ECI visited the Norwegian Parliament to meet with key members to discuss Norwegian foreign policy options in the Middle East. The previous Labour-led government had not always been the most constructive peace partner. Despite pledges not to engage with the terrorist group Hamas, the Norwegians were discovered to have nurtured close relationships with the terrorist group. When the PA presented their unilateral statehood bid to the UN in November 2012, the Norwegian Government was helping out behind the scenes.

In his speech, Tomas Sandell pointed out that the new government should continue its involvement in the Middle East, but needs to become more balanced. - The previous government’s role in trying to legitimise Hamas as a peace partner and lobbying for a unilateral PA state, has discredited the Norwegian efforts. Now it is time for a fresh start and it could begin with new funding policies’, he said.

He pointed out that Norway, as Chair of the Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian Authority, has the main responsibility, not only to crack down on Palestinian corruption and mismanagement, but also to make sure that the funds are not used to fuel hatred but rather to prepare for co-existence.

Key members of the Foreign Affairs Committee expressed their gratitude for this outside perspective and expressed their desire to stay in contact throughout the whole mandate period.

Time to get involved in the upcoming EU-elections 22-25 May

Brussels – With less than six weeks to go to the European Parliament elections on May 22nd-25th, ECI is now starting its “Pray and Vote” campaign to inform our constituency about the elections.

In previous elections, in 2004 and 2009, ECI was able to inform and mobilise the Christian electorate to maximise its influence, by taking part in the elections despite the low overall turnout. With the enlargement of the EU to 28 member states, it is no longer possible for ECI to screen the candidates in each member state; instead we would ask the voters themselves to become active in the campaign by raising the right issues with their MEP candidates.

ECI has identified some questions that will help position the candidates and their stand on issues related to Israel and the Jewish people. Here are some;

- Should male circumcision and kosher slaughter be allowed or banned in Europe? - Is the EU doing enough to ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear bomb? - Should the EU divest from the disputed territories or allow Israeli businesses to be active there, thus providing job opportunities for Palestinians? - Should Jerusalem be divided under a final peace agreement or remain the united capital of Israel? - Should EU aid to the PA be made conditional on economic performance and human rights record or should it continue as in the past?

ECI has sent these same questions to all major political groups in the European Parliament and will post the answers on our website as soon as we have their replies.

With the threat of extremist voices gaining strength in the European Parliament it is now important that every friend of Israel goes to the poll.

Editor Tomas Sandell tomas.sandell@pp.inet.fi