September 23, 2006
by Staff Writer
A gala event in Brussels next week will celebrate the creation of a new pro-Israel lobby in Europe, similar to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) operating in the United States.
The organization, “European Friends of Israel,” already has 150 members from the European Parliament. The body is backed financially by Jewish businessmen.
Lobby members decided to make their activities as a pan-European lobby official and to network Israel supporters among members of the European Parliament and in national parliaments where no such lobby currently exists. The organization also aims to strengthen ties between existing pro-Israel groups across the continent and to help to improve Israel’s image in Europe.
The opening event will host Knesset members from Israel. The Israeli Foreign Ministry gave its blessing to the formation of the organization and instructed its European embassies to assist and cooperate with it. Officials in the Foreign Ministry said that it is an important initiative in light of the current relationship between Israel and the European Union.
Michel Gur-Ari, head of the organization, said that the lobby intends to help transform Europe into an ally of Israel.
Gala launches ‘European Friends of Israel’
Hundreds of European and Israeli politicians, parliament members, other senior officials attend formal induction in Brussels of new organization of European supporters of Israel. EFI rep: Aim is to unite supporters of Israel into political force that will aid political-diplomatic arena, commerce
09.14.2006 | YnetNews.com
by Ronny Sofer
During the induction ceremony of a new organization of European Friends of Israel (EFI) at the European parliament in Brussels, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert noted that Europe had a key role in building the diplomatic process in the Middle East. Olmert made the comments in a pre-filmed address broadcast at the formal launch party.
Olmert further reiterated that he was willing to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas without preconditions
The gala event to launch the pan-European pro-Israel body, which unites hundreds of EU parliament members, was attended by a number of Knesset members including Limor Livnat, Danny Yatom, Amira Dotan and Avshalom Vilan.
Knesset Chairman Dalia Itzik and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is currently on a diplomatic visit in New York, also sent missives to the participants in the event.
Some 200 European parliament members attended the launch, which was held in Brussels, Belgium. Likewise, representatives of the Israeli aerial industry, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, the Technion and other Israeli bodies also attended. Special displays on Israel were presented in the reception hall.
Representative of EFI in Israel, Yehoshua Mor Yosef, said that this was the first time an effort was being made to join forces among European supporters of Israel.
“The aim is to unite all supporters of Israel to a political force that will aid not only in the political-diplomatic arena but also in the issue of trade in Europe. The even was held with the blessing of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and it will help publicize Israel in this area. I see great importance in this development and in Europe’s continued support of Israel,” Mor Yosef said.