Brussels, December 7th 2017 – The European Coalition for Israel (ECI) co-hosted an official commemoration event for the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration at the European Parliament on Wednesday, together with the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM), with speakers from both Europe and Israel. Conference hosts MEP Bas Belder and MEP Branislav Škripek emphasised the importance of building a strong EU-Israeli relationship based on the solid legal foundations of the Jewish state, shared values and mutual interests for the future.
Author of a recent book about the Balfour Declaration, Lord Turnberg from the House of Lords in the UK noted that “it would not have been possible for the British Government to announce the Balfour Declaration without the support of its Allies. It was the endorsement of the French, the Italians, the Russians and the Americans that allowed them to proceed. Even the Pope gave verbal support and, at least initially, so did the Grand Sharif Hussein and his son Prince Faisal in Mecca.”
But he went on to explain that it was in San Remo, in 1920, and at the League of Nations, in 1922, that the internationally agreed legal basis of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine was established. It was here that the Balfour Declaration was converted from a simple, non-legal, expression of support – a ‘view with favour’ – into the legal foundation for the Jewish state.
ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker pointed out that the Balfour Declaration is extremely important because it laid the basis for the creation of the State of Israel thirty years later in 1948. “The State of Israel is remarkable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a Jewish state, which means it is the expression of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Secondly, it is a democratic state, which means it seeks to protect the civil and religious rights of all of its citizens – Jews, and non-Jews – just as was envisaged in the Balfour Declaration. Thirdly, it has sought to remain a democracy built on the rule of law, despite the fact it has to fight daily for its survival against the threat of terrorism. And despite those threats, it has managed to become one of the most successful nations on earth”, he explained.
The second part of the conference dealt with Israeli innovation in technology. Israeli Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs MK Gilad Erdan urged the EU-member states to enhance their cooperation with Israel in every field, from fighting terror to developing hi-tech products. “European countries must stop funding NGOs promoting BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). The anti-Israel BDS campaign is illegitimate and immoral, and any form of European support for it undermines the chances for peace”, he said.
Other speakers included Israeli Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Members of Knesset Robert Ilatov and Yoel Hasson, MEP Arne Gericke and Rabbi Menachem Margolin. Examples of Israeli innovation projects were presented by Liron Rosenbaum of Orcam Technologies and Hila Glick from Innovation Without Borders. ECPM European Affairs Director Leo van Doesburg moderated the second session.
ECI Brussels Representative and conference co-host Ruth Daskalopoulou-Isaac thanked the participants and speakers and summarised the event by declaring that “from Zion shall go forth new technology which will benefit the whole world!”
Photo credit ©European Union 2017