Strasbourg – 25 October 2016 – The AJC Transatlantic Institute welcomes that the European Parliament today strengthened a key Iran report by slamming Tehran’s institutional anti-Semitism and threats against the Jewish state.
With 590 to 67 votes and 37 abstentions, lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a last-minute amendment by Dutch Liberal parliamentarian Marietje Schaake, which reads that the house: “Strongly condemns the Iranian regime’s repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and the regime’s policy of denying the Holocaust.”
“By clearly denouncing Tehran’s anti-Semitic policies and threats against Israel, the European Parliament has corrected, with a wide majority, one of the report’s most glaring shortcomings. We salute Parliament’s principled stand on this critical issue,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC’s EU Office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute. “Unfortunately, another crucial amendment calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners and an end to systematic torture and other improvements to the text were rejected, Schwammenthal added.
The report entitled “EU Strategy towards Iran after the nuclear agreement” was authored by British Labour MEP Richard Howitt and approved in today’s vote. In a debate on the report Monday night, several Members of the European Parliament blasted Mr. Howitt’s original draft, which they said gave Tehran a free pass on its human rights violations, support for Assad and terror organizations. Swedish lawmaker Lars Adaktusson told the house that the Iranian embassy in Brussels sent him and other MEPs letters “expressing great satisfaction” with the original draft report, urging him and others to support it.
“Sadly, some in this house sought to rush to business as usual with Tehran and to ignore or obfuscate the regime’s horrendous crimes against its own people and those in the region,” Schwammenthal said. “The European Parliament is an important voice in the defense of human rights, justice and freedom. If we compromise on our values in pursuit of our interest, we are likely to lose both,” Schwammenthal added.
In several rounds of tense negotiations between the political groups, the text was somewhat improved by addressing Iran’s human rights abuses, external aggression and support for terror organizations such as Hezbollah. A last-minute attempt by the far-left GUE Group to erase the reference to Hezbollah was justly rejected.
The AJC Transatlantic Institute as well as many MEPs, primarily from the liberal ALDE Group, would have preferred to see even clearer and stronger language on all these critical issues.
The AJC Transatlantic Institute is the EU Office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a non-partisan organization founded in 1906 and dedicated to defending universal human rights throughout the world.