Italian MEPs campaigning for Israel's inclusion in EU

Meron Rapoport

Italian members of the European Parliament intend to embark on an international campaign to further a proposal to include Israel in the European Union after peace agreements are signed in accordance with international law.

Behind the initiative are the two MEPs of a small party, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, one of whom, Marco Cappato, arrived in Israel to further the idea.

Cappato plans to participate in the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem tomorrow, which he describes as a struggle "against all types of fundamentalism: Christian, Muslim, Jewish."

The Italian MEP says Israel is threatened, both as a national minority in the Middle East and also because of the dangers posed by Iran and Hezbollah.

"The sense of fear is real," Cappato says, "and one of the ways through which the Israelis could overcome the fear and reach settlements with the Palestinians and the Syrians is through joining a large block like Europe."

If Israel joins Europe, the Italian MEP explained, it will be safer because an attack on Israel will constitute an attack against Europe, "an attack against London or Rome."

The European representative also said an Israeli application for European Union membership will bolster those in the country supporting concessions because peace accords will not only be based on a deal with Arab states but will be backed by 450 million Europeans.

Cappato is a proponent of the idea that Europe should "reach from one to the other side of the Mediterranean." As such, any country along the Mediterranean coast that meets the necessary criteria on human rights and international law could join the EU.

"We must tell the Arabs that we will not leave them to their dictators," Cappato says.

The campaign, which is scheduled to begin in the coming months in Europe, will include non-violent action.