ECI Annual Policy Conference provides solid defence for united Jerusalem despite hostile EU environment

Brussels - The European Coalition for Israel provided a solid defence for a united Jerusalem at the Annual Policy Conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday March 30th. The theme of this year’s conference was “Jerusalem – is Europe supporting or undermining peace in the Holy City?”

Despite consistent EU support for a re-dividing of Jerusalem and the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state with the Old City of Jerusalem as its capital, ECI firmly rejected any such measures in its policy conference.

In an open letter which was presented to the Head of the Middle East Unit of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Raul Fuentes Milani, ECI explained why only a united Jerusalem can preserve peace in the Holy City and guarantee the freedom of worship for all religions. Keynote speaker Dr. Dore Gold from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told the audience that “the EU will have to choose between two schools of thought: one that protects holy sites and another one that seeks to destroy them.” In his speech he gave concrete evidence from recent years of what jihadists are capable of doing and have done in the name of radical Islam. In 2001 the Taliban blew up a 2000-year old Buddha statute in Afghanistan and in 2004 Palestinian militants occupied and desecrated the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Due to an intervention by the EU, the terrorists were later given exile in Europe and in Gaza.

The political highlight of the conference was a personal message from UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in which she clarified her personal stance on the sensitive issue of Jerusalem by saying: “to deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim tradition undermines the integrity of the city of Jerusalem and runs counter to the reasons that justify its inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage list."

The message from the head of UNESCO has been widely circulated in the international press and came after ECI had extended a personal invitation to her to address the policy conference. Although being unavailable to attend in person she insisted that UNESCO would be represented at the highest possible level and sent her Deputy Director Genc Seiti to deliver her statement.

In a personal message to ECI, Ms. Bokova expressed her sincere appreciation for the constructive role that ECI has played in defending the historical truths about Jerusalem while at the same time being able to differentiate between the vote of the member states in the passing of anti-Israeli resolutions and the clear stance of the Director-General in distancing herself from these same resolutions.

For a more detailed report on the policy conference please read the press release here.

ECI Open Letter receives endorsement from Mayor of Jerusalem

Jerusalem – The ECI Open Letter for a united Jerusalem which was first presented in the European Parliament at the Annual Policy Conference on March 30th has received the full endorsement from the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat.

Two weeks prior to the conference the Mayor received ECI Founding DirectorTomas Sandell in his office in Jerusalem where he expressed his gratitude for all the ECI work in support for a united Jerusalem throughout the years. While not being able to participate in the annual conference in person, he sent an official video message which was shown during the conference.

The open letter will be circulated among political and spiritual leaders ahead of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and will then be officially presented to the Mayor of Jerusalem.

Already in 2011 ECI collected over 60,000 hand written signatures, among them many prominent politicians, in support for a united Jerusalem, at the time when the PLO was threatening to make a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN.

There are several ECI initiatives planned for the coming months in support for a united Jerusalem, as anti-Israel groups are planning large demonstrations and protests against what they call “50 years of occupation”. In Dublin, Ireland, the Palestinian flag will fly at the City Hall for one whole month, starting on May 15th, as a protest against the “occupation”.


ECI Member Organization received by the President of Israel

Jerusalem – The Netherlands based “Christians for Israel International” was warmly received by the President of the State of Israel,Reuven Rivlin, during their annual conference which was held in Jerusalem in the middle of March. At the meeting, which took place in the official residence of the President, he spoke once again about how his family has lived in Jerusalem since 1809, thus refuting the claim that Jews have no history in Jerusalem. In his short remarks he said that he believes the Messiah will one day return to Jerusalem. He thanked Christians for Israel International for their work in helping Jews make aliyah to Israel and for their support for a united Jerusalem.

Their conference concluded with a reception where, among others, Deputy MinisterMichael Oren spoke on behalf of the government of Israel. In his speech Dr. Oren reminded the audience of the central role of Christians in Europe and the USA in the birthing of the Jewish state.

Christians for Israel International is one of the founding members of European Coalition for Israel. Its President, Willem Glashouwer, was the first elected chairman of ECI, and today the Executive Director of Christians for Israel International, Andrew Tucker, serves as the Legal Counsel of ECI.


ECI Founding Director speaks at Oslo Symposium ahead of Norwegian elections

Oslo – ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell was one of the keynote speakers at the Oslo Symposium, just a few months ahead of the parliamentary elections in Norway. The Oslo Symposium brings together the Christian electorate to hear leading Norwegian politicians each present their platform for the upcoming elections and has traditionally included a panel on Israel, which continues to be a central issue in the Christian vote in Norway.

Sandell had the honour to share on the panel with the Israeli Ambassador to Norway,Raphael SchutzMosab Hassan Yousef (alias: “Son of Hamas”), and Juergen Buehler, the President of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). They all presented the case for Israel as the only stable democracy in a region of increasing chaos and a country which deserves the full support of the Norwegian government. Since the last election when a centre-right coalition took power, Norway has rejected its previous anti-Israel policy and has become a true friend of Israel. However, civil society in Norway is still considered to be one of the strongest bastions for the BDS movement, and if the government changes in September this could pose a new threat to Israel’s security. ECI wishes to congratulate the organisers, Kristenfolket, Norge i Dag and ICEJ Norway, for an interesting and well-attended conference.