Likud Party Knesset member Avi Dichter was verbally attacked by two European Parliament members after delivering a speech to the European Parliament in Brussels this week.
Dichter, who heads Israel’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, delivered his address as part of the annual inter-parliamentary meeting between Israel and the European Union’s respective committees.
Addressing the chairman of the European Parliament following Dichter’s speech, Portuguese MEP Ana Maria Gomes said, “Mr. Chairman, you said you were honored to receive Mr. Dichter. I’m not. I’m disgusted. … Knowing that he has been the head of [the] Israeli Shin Bet [security agency] who was responsible for masterminding the Israeli policy of targeted killings, where many, many people died in extrajudicial killings in [the] West Bank [and] in [the] Gaza [Strip] since 2001.
“He was also the first lawmaker to initiate the racist nation-state bill, which I think makes Palestinians, Israeli citizens of Arab origin second-class citizens. I am a member of this parliament. I am a former diplomat. I am trained to engage with whomever, with the devil. … I just want to say that from what he has said indeed he is not interested in peace. He is a warmonger,” she said.
Spanish MEP Javier Couso Permuy accused Dichter of being a “war criminal” who ordered the torture of Palestinian prisoners, the execution of Hamas members and bombed civilians.
“I do not want to be in the same place as a war criminal because I am disgusted and I will therefore leave,” he said before exiting the hall.
Other MEPs, however, came to Dichter’s defense. Dutch MEP Bas Belder condemned Gomes’s remarks and referring to Sunday’s deadly terrorist attack in the Barkan Industrial Area, said, “I want to share my condolences with the families whose loved ones were murdered in the terrorist attack in Israel. I am ashamed of MEP Gomes who spoke this way.”
British MEP Geoffrey Van Orden said “Dichter has many friends here and he is warmly welcomed. He has fought terrorism for many years.”
Dichter was later given the floor again and took the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Noting he had spent 47 years fighting terrorism in Israel, the West Bank Gaza Strip, Lebanon and worldwide, Dichter said that he was “very proud” of all those anti-terror efforts and “very sorry about the cases that we … failed to block terrorists and they killed people in Israel and in some neighboring countries. … Never in my life did I intend to cause any harm to an innocent person.”
As for the nation-state law, Dichter said that when the State of Israel was established, it was decided the country would be the nation-state of the Jewish people. He said the law “does not harm anyone’s rights; Jew, non-Jew, Muslim, Christian, Druze, no one. I recommend you read the law,” he said.
Citing Sunday’s deadly terrorist attack, Dichter called on the European Parliament to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority that Ramallah uses to pay terrorist stipends.
“Just yesterday, a terrorist inside a place of industry in the West Bank opened fire against workers in the … factory and killed two of them, a young woman with one baby, another man with three kids; injured a third person. The terrorist is still on the run. He will be caught either alive or dead. But this man knows for sure that he already became yesterday an employee of the Palestinian Authority.
“The Palestinian Authority has a law that if you are jailed in Israel you are getting a monthly salary. The Palestinian Authority pays every year $400 million to terrorists. That’s a regime that speaks about peace … that speaks about fighting terrorists,” said Dichter. “The fuel that this regime is giving to terror is something that has to be stopped. We in Israel just passed a law … how we are going to stop the continuation of sponsoring terrorists legally by the Palestinian Authority.”