Samidoun continued its meetings at the European Parliament and events with Leila Khaled, Palestinian historic resistance figure and political leader, visiting Brussels following a speech in Utrecht at the New World Summit.
Representatives of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network and the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine joined Khaled for meetings with Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis, vice-chair of the Green United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) bloc in the Parliament, and Greek MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis, vice-president of the European Parliament on 9 and 10 February.
The meetings focused on several issues, in particular the struggle of Palestinian prisoners. Khaled and Samidoun representatives also spoke specifically about the case of Mohammed al-Qeeq, the Palestinian journalist on hunger strike for nearly 80 days in protest of his imprisonment without charge or trial. Sylikiotis noted that he had submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission on al-Qeeq’s case and would follow up further, as did Papadimoulis, noting that this issue was of concern to the European parliamentary delegation currently visiting Palestine.
Khaled and the Samidoun representatives also urged action on the case of Omar Nayef Zayed, the Palestinian former prisoner in Bulgaria currently in refuge in the Palestinian embassy, sought for extradition to the Israeli state after 22 years in Bulgaria. As Bulgaria is an EU member state, its involvement in the extradition and imprisonment of Palestinians is important to all European parties; in addition, this action threatens Palestinians throughout Europe, as the delegation noted.
Further, Khaled emphasized the importance of Palestinian refugees’ right of return, often systematically excluded from European discussions of Palestine, while being the central issue for Palestinians themselves. She noted that Palestinian refugees – including herself – have been denied the right to return for 68 years. She also denounced the situation of UNRWA, calling for European action, noting that Palestinian refugees had been excluded from UNHCR with the creation of an agency dependent on donor dollars and thus political pressure, which today means that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are facing cuts to medical services after years of denial of their most fundamental right to return.
The delegates also raised with great concern reports of new gas and security deals between Greece, Cyprus and Israel, as well as reports of increased cooperation between the Greek government and Israel, noting that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is growing and no government that identifies as left or progressive should be strengthening – rather than cutting – relations with Israel.
Samidoun was also involved in organizing a large meeting for Khaled on 10 February with Brussels activists and organizers, following on a mass event in Amsterdam on 6 February organized by Revolutionary Unity (Revolutionaire Eenheid), co-sponsored by Samidoun.