Knesset Speaker Slams Foreign Lawmakers Over Visit to Hamas-Ruled Gaza
Reuven Rivlin, speaker of the Israeli Knesset, said he would boycott an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) delegation set to arrive in Israel next month after IPU announced that it would include the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on its itinerary, Israel Hayom reported.
According to its website, the IPU—of which Israel is a member—is “the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and cooperation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.” The national parliaments of 162 countries are part of the IPU, an organization which has permanent observer status at the United Nations.
Rivlin’s bureau said in a press release Monday that the Knesset will not host the delegation and will not allow its members to hold meetings with Israeli lawmakers and diplomats. “The Gaza Strip is run by Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist by the Quartet and the international community,” Rivlin said in the statement. “The Knesset will consider taking additional measures should the IPU insist on visiting Gaza,” he said, warning that “such a visit is a bad omen when it comes to the relationship between the Knesset and the IPU.”
The speaker’s bureau dismissed the IPU’s claim that a visit to Gaza was necessary because visiting the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority officials necessitated, for the sake of balance, a visit to the Gaza Strip. The speaker’s bureau also challenged the IPU’s assertions that its members will not hold official meetings with Hamas officials, saying Hamas has forged extensive ties with many parliamentarians outside Israel.
Last January, Rivlin said Israel might opt out of the IPU after it invited Hamas members to attend a human rights forum in Geneva, the online news portal Megafon reported.