At a unique conference in Jerusalem, Israel had the opportunity to say ‘thank you!’ to its friends from parliaments around the world.
Dozens of heads of inter-parliamentary friendship groups from across the globe convened in Jerusalem to participate in a special tribute conference that is being held by the Knesset for the first time ever.
Celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary, the Knesset’s special conference this week pays tribute to 65 parliamentarians from 32 countries who lead pro-Israel parliamentary friendship groups.
The guests are meeting with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and members of Knesset and are focusing on: promoting Israel’s status in the international arena, the joint fight against the anti-Israel BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), the war on global terrorism, Israel’s image in the world, environment and sustainability, and the hi-tech industry, among other issues.
As part of this conference, the guests toured Gaza border towns and received a security overview delivered by senior IDF officials. Visits also include the Old City of Jerusalem and the Mobileye Company offices, as well as a group viewing of the World Cup semi-finals together with members of Knesset.
The participating countries include Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Peru, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Uganda, Ukraine and the UK.
Time to Thank Our Friends
Edelstein stated ahead of the conference that “this is the time to thank our great friends, Israel’s supporters, who stand alongside us in complicated arenas across the globe. The members of parliaments who support us are rays of light in the daily war for our claim to justice.”
The aim of the conference is to empower and strengthen the commitment of the heads of the groups to Israel, to discuss joint initiatives to promote Israel’s status in the world and thank them for their activity.
Fruits of Friendship
The friendship groups oversee their parliaments’ ties with Israel, maintaining ongoing contact with the Knesset and promoting a pro-Israel voice in hostile legislatures.
The deputy of the Canada-Israel Inter-parliamentary Group, David Sweet, for example, spearheaded a petition for other members of parliament demanding that the Canadian government work toward the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, which are currently held by Hamas.
The head of the Israel-Mexico Parliamentary Friendship Group, Carlos Iriarte Mercado, initiated Israel Week in the Mexican Congress, featuring lectures and exhibits related to Israel.
In Guatemala, where the Guatemala-Israel Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group steered by Juan Manuel Diaz Duran numbers 60 members of Congress out of 158, the group members passed the “Israel-Guatemala Friendship” Law about two months ago.
The law establishes that each year, on May 14, the friendship between the two countries will be commemorated in the education system and in national institutions, and they will teach the history of the State of Israel. Furthermore, the group members had dozens of members of parliament sign a letter supporting the transfer of the Guatemalan embassy to Jerusalem. The letter was forwarded to the President of Guatemala prior to his decision to transfer the embassy.