Tuesday, July 09, 2019 8:00 to 9:00
Launch of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel
Working Breakfast in the European Parliament
The AJC Transatlantic Institute launched the inter-parliamentary Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) group in the EU Parliament. The standing-room only audience of some 60 people included 25 MEPs from 13 countries, representing four of the five major political groups. TFI is the first-ever cross-party friendship caucus specifically committed to strengthening the trilateral partnership between the U.S., Israel, and Europe.
TFI's Chair, Austrian MEP Lukas Mandl (EPP) co-hosted the kick-off event with German MEP Dietmar Köster (S&D) and TFI Vice Chair MEP Frédérique Ries (Renew Europe).
In his opening remarks, MEP Mandl said that the transatlantic alliance with Israel - a global leader in technology, defense, and innovation - is one of the most important issues of our time: "This trilateral partnership, based on shared Western values, interests, and history, is crucial for our collective security and prosperity. That’s why we have created the ‘Transatlantic Friends of Israel’ as a key inter-parliamentary group to help advance this critical work.”
MEP Köster said: “Despite current political differences, the allegiance between North America, Europe and Israel runs deep due to the shared values of a social democracy, freedom and an open society based on the rule of law.”
One of TFI’s Vice Chairs, Lithuanian MEP Petras Auštrevičius, explained that the group will promote a more balanced treatment of Israel within the EU. “It’s astonishing that the EU has in recent months held Association Councils with Egypt, Morocco, and other Arab countries, but not with Israel, the Middle East’s only liberal democracy. This unfair treatment hurts not just Israeli but also European interests.”
H.E. Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s ambassador to the EU and NATO, expressed in his special addresses his full support for the group’s activities: „Europe, the U.S. and Israel are challenged by forces that are hostile to our values and way of life. We can, we must work together, to find common solutions to those challenges.”
Christina Tomlinson, the Chargé d’Affairs of the U.S. Mission to the EU, said: “To our friends from the European Parliament who are here today, your presence is remarkable. That just a few days after taking office you would take the time and make the commitment to be here speaks volumes about your dedication to the transatlantic relationship and your willingness to have an open and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel.”