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Picture Fulvio Martusciello (left) and Bas Belder (right) with Jerusalem in the background

Member of the European Parliament and newly appointed Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel Fulvio Martusciello, a Christian Democrat from Italy, visited Israel this week for the first time at the invitation of B’nai B’rith International. Joining Martusciello on the trip was MEP and previous delegation chair Bas Belder, a European Conservative from the Netherlands.

The two day visit was prepared in tandem by the B’nai B’rith International EU Affairs Office in Brussels and the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem. The delegation met with the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi; MK and Chair of the Economic Affairs Committee Avishay Braverman; MK and Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Zeev Elkin; and MK and Chair of Knesset Lobby for the Struggle Against Anti-Semitism Shimon Ohayon. The delegation also met with the Head of the Bureau of the European Division of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Shmuel Revel. Major issues raised during the meetings included EU-Israel relations, the Iranian threat and the latest on anti-Semitism throughout Europe.

The delegation also visited Yad Vashem and the Old City of Jerusalem.

“Unfortunately people don’t know what they are talking when they talk about Israel,” Martusciello said. “This visit was an eye opener for a country that I always have the will to visit.” During the meetings Martusciello mentioned the importance of Holocaust education in Europe and, in particular, the need for accurate information about the real situation in Israel.

Picture Bas Belder (left) and Fulvio Martusciello (right) shake hands with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (center)

World Center Director Alan Schneider and Director for EU Affairs Nuno Wahnon, who accompanied the MEPs on the visit, noted the importance of having leading EU political figures dealing with EU-Israel relations visit Israel early in their tenure. The visit laid the foundation for a future cooperation between B’nai B’rith and the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel.