Israeli Embassy in Rome outraged by Italian MP’s invite to Palestinian NGOs accused of terror ties.
A row has broken out between the Israeli Embassy in Rome and a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies over her invitation to two Palestinian NGOs, accused by Israel of ties with a terrorist organization, to address a parliamentary commission on human rights.
In a statement, the embassy said it was “shocked” by left-wing MP Laura Boldrini’s invitation to representatives of two Palestinian organizations — Al Haq and Addameer — that Israel maintains are front organizations for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
A Marxist and Arab nationalist organization pledged to Israel’s destruction as a sovereign state, the PFLP gained notoriety in the late 1960s and 1970s for hijacking commercial airliners, including a plane belonging to El Al, Israel’s national airline, in July 1968. The group is designated a terrorist organization by the US, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Japan.
In October, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz included Al Haq and Addameer on a list of six Palestinian organizations proscribed as a result of their links to the PFLP.
Both Shawan Jabarin, Al Haq’s director, and Sarah Francis, Addameer’s representative, spoke via videoconference at Wednesday’s session of the Italian parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Rights in the World. Jabarin, who holds a past conviction for recruiting on behalf of the PFLP, was described as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character in a 2007 decision of the Israeli Supreme Court.
“In part of his activities, he is the director of a human rights organization, and in another part he is an activist in a terrorist organization which does not shy away from acts of murder and attempted murder which have nothing to do with rights, and on the contrary deny the most basic of all human rights … the right to life,” the court stated.
In its statement criticizing Boldrini’s invitation, the Israeli Embassy in Rome said it represented “a recognition of terrorism and completely contrasts with the expectation of the entire international community to dissuade and prevent terrorist organizations from operating from within civilian structures, and to prevent any form of financing that ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.”
Boldrini — a representative of the Democratic Party and a former president of the Chamber of Deputies — pushed back against the criticism, insisting that the committee’s hearing had been “entirely legitimate.”
Israel’s allegations against Al Haq, Addameer and other Palestinian NGOs lacked “sufficient supporting documentation,” she added.
Boldrini’s invitation also met with strong criticism from rival Italian politicians. “Addameer and Al Haq’s ties with anti-Jewish terrorism are well known,” the conservative Lega Party said in a statement. “During the hearing, they defined the State of Israel as ‘racist’ and ‘colonial’ — unacceptable expressions.”
Andrea Delmastro — foreign affairs spokesperson for the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (FDI) party — bemoaned the current state of Italian foreign policy, which he said “oscillates between brutal regimes like the Chinese one, dictatorial regimes like that of [Venezuela’s Nicolas] Maduro and international terrorism: we are beyond decency!”
“I appeal to the center-right forces in the government: stop them!” he said.
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