The International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians visited the Knesset and Noam Schalit during their consultations.
By Chana Yaar, Gavriel Queenann & Hezki Ezra
First Publish: 6/29/2011, 5:37 PM / Last Update: 6/29/2011, 7:51 PM
A delegation of 55 Jewish lawmakers from 22 nations gathered in Jerusalem this week for a Consultation of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP), organized by the World Jewish Congress. Organizers say the conference comes at a time of unprecedented diplomatic challenges for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
The consultation is expected to focus on developing common strategies to combat anti-Semitism, and the assault on Israel's legitimacy as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
In a hearing in the Knesset moderated by ICJP Chairman Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY), numerous participants voiced concern over the increasing challenges felt by politicians in national capitals across the world.
Viviane Teitelbaum-Hirsch, a Jewish Member of Parliament from Belgium, said that in her own legislative body, the term “Israel” was viewed as a “dirty word.”
Dan Diker, Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress, said creating a common voice among Jewish Parliamentarians is one of the most important public diplomacy objectives for Israel and the Jewish world.
“The coming months will be ones of unprecedented challenge for all those looking to defend the interests of the Jewish State,” he said. “Ensuring that these lawmakers can maximize their influence to support Israel and world Jewry’s basic rights will therefore be critical in overcoming the many obstacles that we know lie ahead.”
The gathering, which allowed the lawmakers to meet with their Israeli counterparts in the Knesset, also included a visit to the protest tent of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, whose captivity in the Hands of the Hamas terror-organization has entered its fifth year.
ICJP Shalit visit, Photo: Andres Lacko
Speaking with Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, Ackerman said, “It is wholly unacceptable that Gilad is being held as a political ploy in a world which should be peace-loving and just.”
Diker, speaking on behalf of the WJC, insisted pressure must be brought to bear on the PA and not just on Hamas alone.
“The Palestinian Authority as a whole, and Mahmoud Abbas as its leader, must be held accountable for the continued captivity of Gilad, which is an outright international war crime,” Diker said.
“We call upon the international community to intensify all possible efforts to secure his release as every day which passes without him returned to his family is another day too long," he concluded.