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War, Peace and Development Democracy around the World D66 European Parliament

EP Solidarity with Knesset Member Azmi Bishara

   Wed 16/01/2002

European MEPs expressed their solidarity with Knesset member Azmi Bishara, whose parliamentary immunity has been lifted and who will be prosecuted for statements made in the context of his parliamentary functions. "The right of free speech is fundamental for all people", stated D66 MEP Lousewies van der Laan, "If Parliamentarians can not even speak freely that spells the end of democracy". A number of Members of the European Parliament have indicated that they will attend the opening of the trial. Van der Laan has written to the European Commission requesting that an EU observer closely monitor the proceedings and report back on a regular basis.

On Wednesday 16 of January, 2002 a group of Members of the European Parliament, headed by MEP Luisa Morgantini organized a Conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg with Member of the Israeli Knesset Dr. Azmi Bishara and with Mr. Shaher Sae´d, the Secretary General of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.

The Conference on "The dilemma of Israeli Democracy" was convened following the removal of the parliamentary immunity of MK Azmi Bishara, Chairperson of the Balad Party (National Democratic Alliance)who will be tried in court for statements made within the framework of his parliamentarian activities.

During the meeting MK Bishara discussed the political significance of the Knesset's decision that represents a threat to the right of political representation of Israeli Palestinians and a violation of the freedom of expression of parliamentarians. He also analyzed the situation in the Middle East and the Israeli Palestinian conflict that is deteriorating rapidly as a result of the policies and actions of the present Israeli government.

Mr. Shaer Sae´d presented a report on the critical situation of the Palestinian economy. He also appealed to the European Union to support the Palestinian people both politically and financially.

MEPs Luisa Morgantini, Emilio Menendez del Valle, Alain Krivine, Lousewies van der Laan, Caroline Lucas, Ulla Sandbaek, Johan Van Hecke, and Olga Zrihen who convened the meeting, and many other Members of the European Parliament who attended the Conference expressed their solidarity with Dr. Bishara, and proposed that a delegation of Members of the the European Parliament should be organized to travel to Israel to attend the opening of the trial against MK Bishara.