The EU’s mission to Israel announced Monday it was canceling a reception it was hosting in Tel-Aviv after far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said he would attend and give a speech.
“The EU Delegation to Israel is looking forward to celebrating Europe Day on May 9, as it does every year,” the mission said in a statement on Twitter.
“Regrettably, this year we have decided to cancel the diplomatic reception, as we do not want to offer a platform to someone whose views contradict the values the European Union stands for,” the statement said.
A member of parliament from the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, Ben-Gvir became minister last December, after his party entered a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud to form what has been described as Israel’s most right-wing government ever.
Ben-Gvir is a notorious hard-liner on security issues, and known for controversial statements he has made about Israel’s Arab citizens.
Last August, when he was still an MP, Ben-Gvir said Arab citizens who attack Israeli soldiers should be deported, while Jews should “sit in prison for many years” for doing the same thing.
The Times of Israel reported Sunday that several EU officials had asked the Israeli government to send another representative, but Ben-Gvir insisted on attending the event at the EU mission, where he was expected to give a speech.
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Commission declined to answer POLITICO Brussels Playbook’s questions about Ben-Gvir’s attendance, saying the Israeli media reports were “speculation.”
Earlier Monday, Peter Stano, the European Commission’s spokesperson for foreign affairs, said the EU “[didn’t] endorse the political views of M. Ben-Gvir” and was “consulting internally and also with our member states on how to handle the situation.”
Gregorio Sorgi contributed reporting.