Israel blocks Spanish MEP from 'diplomatic visit' to Palestine
Israel has blocked a member of the European Parliament (MEP) from leading a diplomatic mission to Palestine where politicians are due to investigate the stifling conditions faced by Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Manu Pineda, a Spanish politician from the United Left coalition, was informed via a letter from the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs in Jerusale that his "arrival to the State of Israel was not approved".
The letter was dated 19 May and shared by Pineda on Twitter on Sunday, a day before his European Parliament mission assessing the current situation of Palestinians was set to begin.
"Israel forbids my entry as President of the delegation," said Pineda on social media.
"The mission planned to meet with the Palestinian authorities and civil society, to review on the territory the consequences of the occupation in the everyday life of the Palestinian population, as well as to see the effects of the EU’s cooperation policies."
Israel has not made public why Pineda's visa was blocked.
The Spanish politician said Israel said it initially refused to allow the European mission access to Gaza and then extended the ban to the occupied West Bank.
Pineda has been vocal in his support for Palestinian rights and freedoms, including after the murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces.
Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, later posted on social media: "I regret the decision to refuse entry to Israel to [Mr Pineda] the chair of the [European] Delegation for relations with Palestine. I will raise the issue directly with authorities concerned."
The Maltese politician then added: "Respect for MEPs and the European Parliament is essential for good relations."
Metsola was in Tel Aviv on Monday visiting a university.