(February 23, 2023 / JNS) Ana Miranda, a member of the European Parliament, returned to Spain after she was denied entry to Israel on Tuesday.
She was detained for six hours at Ben-Gurion International Airport and then returned on the first flight back to Madrid.
Miranda was part of a delegation of eight European Union lawmakers who were in Israel on a diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority, according to a statement from the European Parliament. All other members of the delegation were allowed to enter Israel without being delayed.
A spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the European Union said that “the only reason that Miranda was not allowed to enter is because of her previous attempts to cross Israel’s border illegally.”
This referred to Miranda’s participation in a protest flotilla in 2015 that attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2009 to reduce the flow of weapons being imported by Hamas.
The Israeli spokesperson further cited Israeli law barring entrance to the country to people who are publicly affiliated with the BDS movement. The law was famously enforced in 2019 to prevent Reps. Rashid Talib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from entering the country.
However, emails obtained from Miranda dated Feb. 2 and Feb. 14. between the European External Action Service (the E.U.’s diplomatic service) in Israel and the Foreign Ministry show that Miranda was initially given permission to enter the country.
The emails show that the Foreign Ministry did deny a different proposed member of the delegation, MEP Manu Pineda, the president of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Palestine, entry to Israel. However, they did not mention Miranda.
When asked to comment, a representative of the Foreign Ministry told JNS that Miranda’s deportation was “part of a standard policy to prevent such actors from entering Israel, and executed under the directive of the foreign minister.”
Support for Hamas
The spokesperson for the Israeli Mission to the E.U. further explained that Pineda was barred from entering the country because of his open support for Hamas, a designated terrorist group in both the European Union and Israel. Though Pineda denied the allegation, he did support the 2014 ruling of the European Union’s General Court that ordered the removal of Hamas from the E.U.’s terror watchlist. The decision is to this day suspended and pending appeal in the General Court.
Pineda was also denied entry into Israel in 2020 because of meetings he held with representatives of Addameer and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Israel considers both to be terrorist organizations with the United States and the European Union also designating the PFLP as such.
Pineda on Wednesday tweeted photos of the letter he had received from the Foreign Ministry that said that his “arrival to the State of Israel was not approved, due to information they received from competent authorities in Israel.”
The refusal of entry to Miranda has brought a wave of condemnation from representatives of the European Union and Spain.
Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter that she was “deeply disappointed” by the incident and “will be contacting Israel’s authorities to clarify what happened.” Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares condemned Miranda’s deportation and said that Madrid would “request explanations from the Israeli authorities.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, in response to the Miranda incident, expressed his commitment to close ties with the European Union. “The European countries are Israel’s main trading countries and our alliance is fruitful even when we don’t see eye to eye,” he said.
However, the minister also said that regardless of diplomatic interests, “Israel will not allow actors who are trying to hurt us to enter the country.”
This reality motivated him to “prevent the entrance of members of the European Parliament who have demonstrated support for terror groups or who have tried to enter Israel illegally in the past,” said Cohen.
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