The European Union’s Delegation in Israel canceled on Monday, 8 May 2023 its reception to mark Europe Day to prevent the far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir from doing a speech.
“We don’t endorse the political views of Ben-Gvir,” a spokesperson for the European Commission said ahead of the event.
“The Delegation of the EU to Israel is looking forward to celebrating Europe Day on May 9 in its host country, as it does every year,” the EU’s diplomatic service, the EEAS, said in a statement.
“Regrettably, this year we have decided to cancel the usual diplomatic reception, as we do not want to offer a platform to someone whose views contradict the values the European Union stands for,” it added.
EU delegations around the world will on Tuesday host events to celebrate Europe Day, which marks the anniversary of the 9 May 1950 Schuman declaration in which the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community was first proposed.
Ambassadors from member states as well as representatives of local governments are traditionally invited.
The invitation to the government by the EU delegation to Israel was over the weekend accepted by Ben-Gvir, the minister for national security and leader of the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit party, whose six seats in the Knesset are propping up the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The announcement had stirred controversy with EU officials expressing unease at allowing Ben-Gvir to give a speech, as is customary.
A spokesperson for the European Commission had earlier on Monday told reporters that they were “consulting internally and also with our member states” on how to proceed.
“We don’t endorse the political views of Mr. Ben-Gvir, we don’t endorse the political views of his party because they are in stark contradiction with all the values and principles the European Union stands for and believes in,” the spokesperson added.
Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist, is serving as the Netanyahu government’s national security minister. He was convicted in 2007 of supporting a terror organization and inciting racism.