Amid the boycotts and the planned demonstrations against him, Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein will travel to London on Tuesday for an official visit to the British Parliament as the guest of MP John Simon Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Edelstein is heading a delegation which also includes MKs Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp), Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Revital Swid (Zionist Camp). The visit marks the first time a Knesset speaker is invited to speak at the British Parliament as its official guest. While in London, Edelstein is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, House of Lords Speaker Frances D`Souza, House of Commons Speaker Bercow and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defense Committee.
British PM Cameron (left) with Speaker Edelstein at the Knesset (archives)
Organizations affiliated with the BDS movement have been preparing to protest against Edelstein`s visit, particularly after Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to London, slammed the invite to the Knesset Speaker, claiming Edelstein’s appearance in Westminster would legitimize Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria.
”Mr. Edelstein lives on an illegal Israeli settlement built on Palestinian land and he publicly opposes Palestinian statehood,” Hassassian wrote in an article recently published by the Independent.
Edelstein, for his part, said ahead of the visit ”I am proud to represent the Knesset and the State of Israel, including as a settler of Judea and Samaria. The calls for a boycott by pro-Palestinian entities are hypocritical and inflammatory and they will not dissuade me from standing before Parliament and telling the truth about Israel.”
Addressing the stalled negotiations with the Palestinians, the Knesset Speaker said he would make it clear to the British legislature that ”Israel wants to live in peace with its neighbors, but peace will not be achieved through boycotts, which add fuel to the anti-Semitic fire and encourage the rejection of Israel`s existence. Peace will come only through investment in our region and through the encouragement of cooperation with those same neighbors, in order to make the Middle East a better place for us all.”
The Knesset delegation`s meetings in London will focus on the Palestinian issue, anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Europe.