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July 19, 2019 10:32 am

The Most Recent PFLP Hijacking: European Parliament

avatar by Rebecca Federman and David May


The European Parliament’s debating chamber during a plenary session in Strasbourg. Photo: David Iliff.

The European Parliament (EP) has a Palestinian terrorist problem.

The EP hosted an event last week featuring Khaled Barakat, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), according to the terrorist group’s website. He is also the president of the Palestinian NGO Samidoun.

The European Union designated the PFLP as a terrorist group in 2002 — and the designation is well deserved. The PFLP gained notoriety in the 1960s and 1970s for high-profile hijackings and attacks against Israelis. One of the hijackers was Leila Khaled, who speaks regularly at Samidoun events. In October 2001, the PFLP assassinated an Israeli minister. And in 2014, the PFLP claimed responsibility for a grisly attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left six dead, including three Americans.

Manu Pineda Marin, a Spanish member of the European Parliament, hosted Barakat, along with Charlotte Kates, Barakat’s wife and Samidoun’s international coordinator, for a panel discussion in Brussels. The panelists also included Samidoun’s European coordinator and PFLP member Mohammad Khatib.

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The fact that the event took place is curious. Weeks prior, Germany, an EU member state, prohibited Barakat from engaging in political activities due to his affiliation with the PFLP and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This came just weeks after Germany’s parliament passed a resolution declaring that BDS is antsemitic.

According to its website, Samidoun is “an international network of organizers and activists working to build solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom.” However, Samidoun’s leadership, activists and events are closely affiliated with the PFLP. In fact, in response to Germany barring Barakat from political activity, the PFLP issued a press release expressing its full solidarity with Samidoun and Khaled Barakat.

The Palestinian press has not shied away from identifying Barakat and company as part of PFLP. A Palestinian newspaper reported in 2016 that “Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa in the European Union, Mr. Ellwyn Beck, received a delegation from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, including Khaled Barakat, Mohammad Khatib, Charlotte Kates and activist Mustafa Awad” — all of whom are leaders of Samidoun. During this meeting, Barakat declared, “The goal of our struggle is to topple the project of the Zionist movement represented by its racist settlement entity and to build a democratic Palestine on the entire national territory with Jerusalem as its capital.” He also called on the South African population to boycott Israel.

In December 2017, Samidoun hosted an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the PFLP, featuring Leila Khaled as the keynote speaker. An accompanying article on the PFLP’s Arabic website noted that “Comrade Khaled Barakat” announced Samidoun’s launch of “activities by supporters and friends of the Popular Front in the European capitals and several cities in the United States and Britain…to demand the removal of the name of the Front from the so-called lists of terrorism.” Barakat appears in many other articles on the PFLP’s website.

This was not the first time that the European Parliament welcomed Samidoun. In February 2016, Samidoun leaders, alongside Leila Khaled, met with European Union parliamentarians in Brussels to call for the release of PFLP members imprisoned in Israel. In September 2017, organizations including Samidoun and other groups associated with the BDS movement coordinated an event at the European Parliament about Palestinian women. The event, perhaps not surprisingly, featured Leila Khaled.

Samidoun has recently become very active in the BDS campaign against Israel. Their targets include Airbnb, for listing Jewish rentals in the West Bank; Eurovision, for hosting the competition in Israel; Sodastream, for its West Bank factories; Puma, for serving as the official supplier of the Israel Football Association; Germany for its anti-BDS legislation; the security firm G4S for working with Israel; and Hewlett Packard, for doing business with the Jewish state.

Amidst concerns over extremism and antisemitism in Europe, the European Parliament should stop hosting speakers calling for the discriminatory boycott of the Jewish state. And, in what should be obvious but apparently is not, the European Parliament should stop hosting speakers representing terrorist groups such as the PFLP.

Rebecca Federman is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy, where David May is a research analyst. Follow David on Twitter @DavidSamuelMay. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD.

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