Israel concerned by right wing political block

Sunday, January 14, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Israel has expressed its “deep concern” in light of the formation of a new right wing political group in the European Parliament which, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is based on xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

The new political block, named "Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty," is comprised of 20 members from seven EU countries, representing several extreme right-wing factions. Lawmakers from anti-immigrant parties such as Belgium's Flemish Interest are among members of the new group, which is to be headed by Bruno Gollnisch of France's National Front, the party of French nationalist Jean Marie Le Pen.

The members, hoping also to increase their speaking time at the EU assembly, will first meet during next week's plenary sitting in Strasbourg, France. Under EU rules, there must be at least 20 lawmakers from six member states for a political group to be formed, giving its members better access to the EU and granting them more rights within the EU assembly, such as to appoint senior members of committees.

A statement released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said that “the formation of a parliamentary group whose common denominator is based on xenophobia and anti-Semitism and whose future chairman awaits a verdict in France for his scandalous remarks questioning the existence of the Nazi gas chambers, is disturbing.”

The statement went on to say that “one cannot underestimate the true nature of the new political group which is entitled to EU funds. Israel is confident that the vast majority in the European Parliament will remain faithful to the European ideas and human values.” The far-right group, which includes 20 members for the time being, is due to be legitimized at a general session scheduled for next Sunday in Strasbourg.

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