Epihan Bernard Sabella, a member of the Palestinian delegation to PACE (OSCE Parliamentary Assembly) (OSCE Parliamentary Assembly)
Bernard Sabella

A Palestinian delegate stormed put of a PACE meeting because he could not stand to hear support for Israel and criticism of the Hamas terror organization.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

A Palestinian diplomat stormed out of a meeting of parliamentarians from around the world after it supported remarks made by an Israeli delegate blaming Hamas for the violence and death on Israel’s border with Gaza.

Epihan Bernard Sabella, a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), walked out of a meeting of the organization’s Political Affairs and Democracy Committee after representatives from numerous countries, including Romania, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, said Hamas was a terror group and that it was responsible for the recent clashes along the Israel-Gaza border.

“I cannot sit in this hall,” Sabella said, as he left in protest. Earlier in the meeting, he claimed that Europe lacks leadership and is incapable of operating in the international arena.

The meeting of the committee took place following an exchange between Member Knesset (MK) Aliza Lavie, head of the Knesset delegation to PACE, who sent the committee a letter in response to anti-Israel statements made by the committee’s chairperson, Ria Oomen-Ruijten of the Netherlands.

Oomen-Ruijten condemned Israel for was its alleged “excessive use of force” while repelling rioters and terrorists on the border in connection with the daily violence on the Israel-Gaza border, orchestrated by Hamas, the Islamic terror group that rules the Strip and calls for Israel’s destruction.

Hamas’ March of Return culminated last Monday with a bloody day of violence, during which some 60 Palestinians, mostly terrorists by Hamas’ own admission, were killed.

She later said that the statement reflected her personal opinion.

Responsibility Lies Solely with Hamas

In the letter of response which was read aloud to the committee members, Lavie said the demonstrations along the border were not “innocent.” Rather, the Palestinians rioting on the border fence were an “incited mob [which] tried to breach the border fence, reach Israeli communities and murder civilians,” she stated.

“While the IDF is making every effort to avoid causing harm to innocent people, Hamas does the exact opposite – it uses women and children as human shields and purposely puts civilians in harm’s way,” Lavie said.

“Hamas pays people to participate in hostile activities, invests hundreds of millions of dollars of the aid money which is sent to Gaza in building a force of destruction and aggression against Israel, and the responsibility lies solely with [Hamas],” she added, while calling on PACE to “acknowledge this reality if it truly wants to promote peace and stability in the region.”

Some committee members criticized the Oomen-Ruijten’s statement as one-sided, noting she had ignored the fact that Israel was operating against a terror organization.

While some representatives, including Jordan and Cyprus, criticized Israel, the majority supported the Jewish state in its ongoing struggle against Hamas.

PACE is often the scene of diplomatic clashes between Israel, the Palestinians, with other countries taking opposing sides.

Commenting in January on Council proceedings, Lavie noted that behind the scenes, more countries are sympathetic to Israel’s claims, and Israel’s diplomatic efforts are bearing fruit, albeit partially.

However, “the insistence to continue to accept every Palestinian demand to adopt unfounded resolutions in urgent procedures – not only does this not promote peace, it pushes it further away and encourages the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations,” she said.