Knesset Members Orly Levi-Abekasis (Likud-Yisrael Beitenu), Shimon Ohayon (Likud-Yisrael Beitenu) and Yakov Margi (Shas) traveled to Malta last week for a series of meetings with senior local officials, including President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who took part in a reception marking Israel`s 66th year of independence.

The MKs also met with Anġlu Farrugia, the speaker of the Maltese House of Representatives, and with Foreign Minister George Vella, to whom they gave a letter demanding that the UN and EU work immediately for the return of the three kidnapped Israeli yeshiva students.

FM Vella called the abduction ”unacceptable.” MK Levi-Abekasis, who chairs the Israel-Malta Parliamentary Friendship Group, said the Israeli public was under the impression that European countries tend to exaggerate in their demands from Israel. ”On the other hand, when word of the kidnapping got out, no public condemnations were heard from the European Union,” she said. ”It took a while before your firm opinion was voiced.”

FM Vella surprised MK Levi-Abekasis when he pointed to a photo on his desk which showed her father, former Foreign Minister David Levy, and Yasser Arafat during a diplomatic conference in Malta in 1997.

MKs Ohayon and Margi, as well as Israeli Ambassador to Malta Oren David, were thrilled by the warm reception. ”The Maltese people are true admirers of Israel, and they want to cooperate with us in many fields, such as increasing mutual tourism and dealing with the water shortage,” MK Ohayon said.