Change Region:ICEJ

Press Statements

ICEJ sponsored flights for Ethiopian Jews hits 1,200 this year

A group of eighty-two Ethiopian Jewish immigrants landed at Ben-Gurion Airport last Thursday evening (21 December), bringing to 1,200 the total number of Jews from the East African country which the Jewish Agency has brought to Israel over the past year on aliyah flights sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

A total of 1,300 Ethiopian Jews are expected to arrive by the end of January as part of the first year of renewed aliyah for this ancient Jewish community. The Israeli government's initial plan called for bringing 1,300 members of the community per year until all of the remaining 9,000 Falash Mura in Addis Ababa and Gondar are reunited with their families in Israel. A cabinet decision is still pending to approve the budget and other aspects for the second year of renewed Ethiopian aliyah flights in 2018. Once approved by the Israeli government, the Christian Embassy stands ready to raise the funds need to sponsor this second year of renewed Ethiopian aliyah.

The ICEJ invested $1.2 million in Ethiopian aliyah this past year, including additional monies to assist with the critical absorption phase as these Jewish communities adjust to the new language and culture of Israel. Christians from all over the world have been contributing to this humanitarian cause, including generous donations from African Christians.

"The great ingathering of the Jewish people to Eretz Israel is still continuing and it is a real privilege and joy for our organization to play such a central role in this historic return to Zion," said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, President of the ICEJ. "We know that these latest arrivals from the Ethiopia community will never be the same as they rejoin their families and become fully part of the modern miracle of Israel. Some of these families have been separated now for over two decades, and so it a special honor for us to help bring them back together here in the Jewish homeland.”

In total, the Christian Embassy assisted more than 3,000 Jews to make aliyah in 2017, including from Ethiopia (1,200), Russia (1,100), Belarus (800), Ukraine (70), and India (50), among other countries. Since its founding in 1980, the ICEJ has helped nearly 140,000 Jews return to their biblical homeland, or roughly ten percent of all Jews who have made aliyah in that time period.

This represents an investment of over $50 million in aliyah efforts, with most of the assisted Jewish olim coming from the former Soviet republics but also thousands from Western Europe, North and South America, the Bnei Menashe from India, and the Kaifeng Jews from China. All of these efforts have been made in close coordination with the Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod.

Founded in 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is considered the largest global pro-Israel Christian ministry, with branch offices established in over 95 nations and a reach into more than 170 nations worldwide.

To view video footage of Ethiopian Jews arriving in Israel earlier this year on an ICEJ-sponsored aliyah flight, visit:  

ICEJ Media Alert

This week, more than 6,000 Christians from almost 100 nations will be arriving in Jerusalem to take part in the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, which is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and runs this year from 6 to 11 October. “We are expecting one of our biggest crowds ever at this year’s Feast,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “Thousands of Christians are once again being drawn here from all over the world by the dynamic worship experience which surrounds this unique biblical festival. But there also is the added attraction of celebrating the fifty-year Jubilee of a reunited Jerusalem, and this means we are truly in for a banner Feast.”

The 38th annual Feast gathering will kick off on Friday night, 6 October with an outdoor meal and concert at the Ein Gedi oasis, along the shores of the Dead Sea. The festival then moves up to Jerusalem for the rest of the week of Sukkot, with most events held at the Jerusalem Pais Arena. Other highlights include the popular Jerusalem March through the streets of the capital, special tours to such sites as the ancient City of David, and a concluding Prayer Vigil at the historic Tower of David inside the walled Old City.

The ICEJ’s Feast gathering will once again be the largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, and the country’s most popular annual event for Christian tourists. The Feast’s economic impact on Israel is expected to be $18 to $20 million.

Over the past four decades, the Christian celebration of Sukkot has impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christians and Jews alike. Multitudes of Feast pilgrims have been enriched by the colourful worship experience and by their encounters with both ancient and modern Israel.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was birthed out of the very first public Christian celebration of the Feast in September 1980, at a time when Israelis felt a sense of isolation concerning their historic claim to Jerusalem. That summer, the last thirteen national embassies left the city for Tel Aviv in protest of the Knesset’s passage of the “Jerusalem Law.” In response, over 1,000 Christians from some 40 nations attending that first Feast decided to open an International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem as an act of comfort and solidarity with the 3000-year old Jewish claim and connection to this city.

Given that the issue of Jerusalem has once again come to the fore, this year’s Feast is also dedicated to reaffirming Christian support for a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Among our Feast participants will be some 30 national and state parliamentarians from around the globe affiliated with the Israel Allies Foundation who have come at Sukkot to stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people in their claim to a united Jerusalem.

For more information, contact:
David Parsons, ICEJ VP & Senior Spokesman
Cell:  052 381 6214

PM Netanyahu delivers annual Christmas Greeting at Christian Embassy in Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday (21 December) to deliver his annual Christmas Greeting to the Christian world.

In his traditional holiday greeting, Netanyahu stated:

“To all of our Christian friends around the world, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I send you these greetings from Jerusalem. I'm standing in the courtyard of this magnificent International Christian Embassy. I'm so proud of our relations with our Christian brothers and sisters. I wonder for many of you if you remember the experience you had when you first visited Israel, when you saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Via Dolorosa or the Sea of Galilee or Nazareth. I'm sure it moved you deeply. And it moves us deeply to have this bond with you because we all know that this land of Israel is the land of our common heritage. It changed the story of humanity, it changed civilization. What a magnificent heritage it is. Yet, we also know that it is under attack these days, that the forces of intolerance, of barbarism that attack all religions attack Christians with particular vehemence. We stand with you and I'm proud of the fact that in Israel, this is the one place in the Middle East that the Christian community not only survives but thrives and it's no accident. It’s because of our commitment to religious freedom; it's because of our embrace of our heritage; it's because of our embrace of our common future. So please come to Israel. Come and visit me, I'm waiting for you. It will be a great experience for you. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.”

With Christmas falling this year on the same day as the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jürgen Bühler responded by wishing the prime minister a “Happy Hanukkah,” and giving him a silver Hanukkah dreidel as a gift.

“It was a great honor to host the Prime Minister at our Embassy headquarters and to receive his good holiday wishes for Christmas,” said Bühler. “We know his warm, sincere remarks will be greatly appreciated by Christians in lands far and wide. It also was a thrill to respond with our own ‘Happy Hanukkah’ wishes for him, his family and all the Jewish people. This indeed is a season when both communities can celebrate the triumph of light over darkness. And this timely display of solidarity shows once more that Israel is a country where religious freedoms are not only safeguarded but even encouraged.”

Founded in 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is considered the largest global pro-Israel Christian ministry, with branch offices established in over 85 nations and supporters in more than 160 nations worldwide.

For more information, contact:
English-language media: David Parsons, ICEJ;
Email: ; Cell: 052-381-6214

Hebrew media: Ziv Goldfisher, ICON media;
Email: ; Cell:  054-808-8260

The official Christmas video greeting has been posted on the prime minister’s YouTube and Facebook pages:



Murfreesboro, TN – Today, Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, affirmed to Susan Michael, US Director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), his support for five principles guiding a strong US-Israel relationship. This came in response to a request made to Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton to agree to the principles presented by the ICEJ and its network, American ChristianLeaders for Israel (ACLI), which represents 60 million Evangelicals.

A petition addressed to the candidates signed by some 40,000 grassroots Americans, and the ACLI lettersigned by 650 Christian leadersacross America, emphasized locating the US Embassy to Jerusalem, supporting security aid to Israel, monitoring and acting on Iran’s terrorism and violations of the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement, rejecting third party solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict forced on Israel, and opposing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions efforts levied at Israel. 

The ACLI letter was signed by Evangelical leaders representing diverse groups and denominations including Hispanic and African American Christians; among them Dr. Jerry Johnson, CEO- National

Religious Broadcasters; Roberta Combs, President-Christian Coalition; Rev. Dr. Sam Rodriguez,

President-National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Penny Nance, CEO-Concerned Women for

America; Rev. Harry Jackson, Presiding Bishop-International Communion of Evangelical Churches; Jane Hansen Hoyt, President-AGLOW International; Dr. James Dobson, President-Family Talk Radio; Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated talk show host; and Jim Showers, Executive Director-The Friends of Israel.

In a meeting on September 25 with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at Trump Tower, the Republican presidential candidate already declared, “If I’m president, I’ll recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.”  Then on October 26, in a video at a Republican event in Jerusalem, Trump commented, “My administration will stand side-by-side with the Jewish people and Israel’s leaders to continue strengthening the bridges that connect, not only Jewish Americans and Israelis, but also all Americans and Israelis. Together, we will stand up to enemies, like Iran, bent on destroying Israel and her people, together we will make America and Israel safe again.”

Susan Michael responded to his comments saying, “The policies Mr. Trump has agreed to will enhance Israel’s standing in the world and directly benefit the United States in security, innovation, technology, and intelligence.”

Secretary Clinton is yet to respond to the ICEJ’s request to agree to the five key principles guiding a strong US-Israel relationship.



Daryl Hedding, US Deputy Director: (615) 895-9830,

About American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI)

On behalf of the tens of millions of American Christians that we collectively represent, we the members of ACLI seek to provide a unified voice of truth to the American public in support of Israel and the Jewish people. American Christian Leaders for Israel is a project of the U.S. Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Learn more

About International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ)

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was established in 1980 in recognition of the biblical significance of all of Jerusalem, and its unique connection with the Jewish people of Israel. Today it represents millions of Christians, churches and denominations to the nation and people. Our work with its head office in Jerusalem reaches more than 140 countries with branch offices in over 85 nations. Learn more

ICEJ Calling on Christians to Flood UNESCO with Bibles

In response to UNESCO’s recent passage of a resolution denying any Jewish or Christian connections to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has called on Christians around the world to send Bibles to the UNESCO offices in Paris to remind them of the irrefutable history of the site. Hundreds of Bibles have already been posted to UNESCO with many of its references to “Jerusalem” and the “Temple” highlighted, and thousands more are expected to arrive in coming weeks.

“We were very shocked and disappointed that UNESCO would adopt such a flawed resolution,” said the ICEJ’s Executive Director, Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “Most of us view these diplomats as being principled and well-educated. But apparently, some of them forgot their history lessons and we are sending them Bibles to refresh their memory. Even worse, some of these representatives are deliberately trying to erase the Jewish and Christian bonds to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and other revered sites in the Land of Israel. Hopefully, our campaign will give our nations’ envoys at UNESCO the courage to stand up to the anti-Semites in their midst.”

At the time the UNESCO resolution was passed two weeks ago, the ICEJ was hosting its annual Christian celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. The day after the UNESCO decision, some 8,000 Christians from over 100 nations took to the streets of the Israeli capital in the traditional Jerusalem March to express their solidarity with the Jewish people and their ancient claim and connection to the city.

As the ICEJ’s week-long Feast was ending, Dr. Bühler issued a call for Christians everywhere to send Bibles to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris to press home the message that Jews and Christians have indisputable historic links to Jerusalem which predate Islam by centuries. The Christian Embassy is now receiving reports that hundreds of Bibles are already posted to UNESCO and thousands more will soon be on the way.

Jerusalem is mentioned by name more than 1,000 times in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, while the Temple Mount appears hundreds of times as well. There also are hundreds of other references to the site as “Zion”, the “House of the Lord,” the “courts of the Lord,” and similar terms.

For more information, contact:
David Parsons, ICEJ; Email: ; Cell: 052-381-6214

‘Africa wants renewed ties more than Israel realizes’

In late September, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a shocking message at the United Nations Opening Assembly: “Israel has a bright future at the UN.” Indeed, the world body has been bullying Israel for decades, yet he now has reason to believe things are changing. As an example Netanyahu cited his recent visit to East Africa, where he was warmly welcomed by six national leaders and large crowds of admirers. Netanyahu also held a side summit at the UN with leaders from fifteen African nations. So the Israeli government is aware that an opportunity exists right now to strengthen relations with Africa.

However, Israeli leaders may not fully realize yet just how eager many African countries are to restore and expand their historic ties to Israel. The truth is that some African capitals have been signaling this desire to Israeli officials for several years now and are actually frustrated that Jerusalem has not responded faster. This opportunity for a diplomatic breakthrough is huge and must be pursued, as it even could spell the break-up of the Arab/Islamic monopoly over regional voting blocs at the UN – meaning no more UNESCO fiascos in future.

Over recent years, senior leaders of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem have visited more than a dozen nations all across Africa and discovered that the continent is anxious for deeper relations with Israel. Even leaders of Muslim-majority African nations have expressed their strong interest in restoring relations with the Jewish state – a message we have faithfully conveyed to Israeli officials. Come hear firsthand reports on Africa’s current move to open a whole new chapter with Israel, featuring ICEJ leaders and African officials.

EVENT:   Feast 2016 Press Conference

DATE:      Wednesday, 19 October 2016

TIME:      12:30 PM

PLACE:     Jerusalem Payis Arena – VIP Reception Room

ENTRY:     Via the VIP entrance at street level, beside Arena ticket office


PRESS CONFERENCE Featured Speakers:

Dr. Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ Executive Director

Rev. Juha Ketola, ICEJ International Director

Minister Joel Nguessan, Spokesperson for the President of the Ivory Coast


The ICEJ’s 37th annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem has drawn over 5,000 Christians from more than 90 countries to Israel this year, including some 35 pro-Israel Christian parliamentarians and senior government officials from over 20 nations.

For more information, contact: David Parsons, ICEJ Media Director
Cell: 052-381-6214; E-mail:

ICEJ Statement on UNESCO Vote

We are utterly dismayed that UNESCO has adopted once again a scandalous resolution denying any Jewish connection to the holy sites in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, including the Temple Mount.

The resolution omits the traditional, biblical names of sacred Jewish sites, calling them by alternative Muslim names only.  This is tantamount to rewriting history and stripping these sites of their 4,000 years of Jewish and 2,000 years of Christian connection.  We are deeply concerned that the wording accepted by an international body intends to eradicate any Jewish and Christian bonds to these holy places.

This represents a calculated insult against the Jewish people as well as an affront to over two billion Christians worldwide who know full well that as a faithful Jew, Jesus regularly visited the holy Jewish Temple on this site, taught there, and was zealous for its calling as a “house of prayer for all nations.”

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is now hosting over 5,000 Christians from nearly 100 nations for a Christian celebration of the biblical Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Their presence in this city to mark a Jewish festival at this time demonstrates the historic continuity between our respective faiths and the special place Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in particular hold for Jews and Christians alike. So on behalf of these Christian pilgrims and the millions more they represent back in their home countries, we want to affirm to the Israeli public that we respect the Jewish reverence for Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and we will stand with you in confronting this devious assault on the historic sites in Israel.

The ICEJ had already activated our national branches over recent weeks to work towards changing the wording of this disgraceful UNESCO resolution. And you can rest assured that we will never forget Jerusalem! (Psalm 137:5-6)


Dr. Jürgen Bühler
Executive Director
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

Christian Embassy sponsoring first wave of renewed Ethiopian Jewish Aliyah

Following the Israeli government’s recent decision to renew the aliyah of Ethiopian Jewry, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem recently handed over to the Jewish Agency the funds needed to sponsor the first wave of over 500 new immigrants arriving from this ancient African community.

Last month, the ICEJ handed over $500,000 to Keren Hayesod to cover the aliyah flights of the first wave of 523 Ethiopian Jews, as well as to sponsor flights for another 104 Jewish immigrants coming soon from France and the Ukraine. The first families of Ethiopian Jews are expected to start arriving in Israel by Sukkot, in time for the ICEJ’s annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration in mid-October. Over coming months the Christian Embassy also is aiming to raise enough funds to sponsor the entire first year of renewed Ethiopian aliyah, set at some 1,400 persons, as well as additional monies to assist with their absorption into the country.

“Our Christian supporters have always been generous and enthusiastic in giving towards our aliyah projects, especially when they take on such a humanitarian mission as this renewed Ethiopian return,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the ICEJ Executive Director. “These are people who are endangered by tribal conflicts and unrest while also suffering through times of severe drought and flooding. But now they will be lifted out of difficult and impoverished conditions, and finally be reunited with their families already in Israel.”

Dr. Bühler also noted the ICEJ’s commitment to the absorption phase for Ethiopian Jews, since it has proven to be as important as the actual move to Israel due to the large adjustments in language, culture and education these communities must make. Bühler said the cabinet decision to bring home the last of the Ethiopian Jews also is a further sign that Israel is not a racist or apartheid state. He added that even African Christians have been responding generously over recent weeks to contribute towards this aliyah effort from their continent.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the ICEJ has assisted nearly 120,000 Jews in making their way home to Israel from all over the world. This represents an investment of over $50 million in aliyah efforts, with most of the assisted Jewish olim coming from the former Soviet republics but also thousands from Western Europe, North and South America, the Bnei Menashe from India, and the Kaifeng Jews from China.

Founded in 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is considered the largest global pro-Israel Christian ministry, with branch offices established in 85 nations and a reach into more than 160 nations worldwide.

For more information, contact:
For English/Foreign media:          David Parsons, ICEJ Spokesman;
                                                          Email: ; Cell: 052-381-6214

For Hebrew media:                         Ziv Goldfisher, ICON media;
                                                           Email: ; Cell:  054-808-8260

Cape Town Declaration

1.  Preamble
In the course of world affairs, there are times when people of good conscience are compelled to stand courageously and proclaim certain undeniable truths. There also are places where declaring these truths is all the more appropriate.

Over recent decades, a falsehood masquerading as a truth was sent forth deliberately from a place that only enhanced the power of that lie. The libel that Israel is an apartheid state akin to the racist regime which once ruled South Africa, issued forth from the Durban conference on racism in 2001, has caused extensive harm worldwide in fostering racial hatred and anti-Semitism and spawning a misguided boycott movement against the state of Israel that is ungrounded in reality and wholly counterproductive to peace. So as Christian leaders gathered from all over the world in Cape Town, South Africa, we are here to proclaim a message of undeniable truth in order to put that lie to rest.

As representatives of millions of Christians around the globe, we are here to reaffirm that Zionism is the legitimate national liberation movement for the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland and the modern-day restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel after 2000 years of exile was and remains a consummate act of historic justice.

Accordingly, we wish to address current theological and political questions pertaining to Israel.

2.  Theological Concerns
Biblical Zionism, also known as Christian Zionism, is adhered to by hundreds of millions of Christians around the world, and affirms the right of the Jewish people to return to their ancestral homeland based on God’s covenant promises to the Jewish people, which are by their very nature irrevocable according to our holy Scriptures. Thus we challenge on biblical and moral grounds those Christians who have relied on erroneous theological justifications to endorse the anti-Zionist apartheid libel and engage in the anti-Israel boycott campaign.

Through the Abrahamic Covenant, God chose Abraham and his natural descendants to birth a nation by which He might redeem the world, and to accomplish this purpose He bequeathed to them a land on which to live as this chosen nation in perpetuity. Though exiled by God Himself, the Jewish people also were divinely promised a future restoration to their land, which we have witnessed in modern times. This promised restoration is affirmed throughout the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, as is their national calling to become once more a “light unto the nations.”

We therefore reject Replacement Theology and similar Christian teachings which deny the enduring covenantal link and relationship between the land and people of Israel and their God. Israel’s right and destiny to be restored as a nation back in their homeland has never been lost because of the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people, nor has the Church replaced Israel as God’s sole redemptive agent in the world. This false theology has done untold damage down through the centuries, and in the wake of the Holocaust it must never be allowed to inflict any more harm on the Jewish people. We commit ourselves to brotherhood and fellowship between Christians and Jews, sharing mutual respect for our ties, our commonalities and our differences.

3.  Political Concerns
The anti-Israel apartheid libel has gained traction in both Western and Developing nations for different inexcusable reasons, as neither should have ever found acceptance. The Apartheid regime in South Africa was uniquely cruel and immoral in that it disenfranchised and oppressed the majority of its own citizens based on race. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a completely different situation, essentially involving a dispute between two peoples claiming the same lands, which unfortunately is a far too common problem in today’s world. Further, it is a falsehood to depict Israel as a Western colonial implant in the Middle East. Israel was re-born as a nation in an era of decolonization worldwide, when lands once held by the Ottoman Empire were set aside in mandatory trusts to build nation-states for the indigenous peoples. The legal foundations for numerous Arab states in the region today rests largely upon the same legal basis and framework on which Israel was reconstituted when the Jewish people were internationally recognized as indigenous to Palestine. So to question the legality or legitimacy of one of these states in the Middle East is to question the legality and independence of them all. The Western nations need to reaffirm their recognition of the Jewish people’s historic and moral rights to their ancient homeland, and to defend Israel from the nefarious efforts to delegitimize its existence. Meanwhile, the Developing nations need to recognize and treat Israel as a duly constituted state built on the same principles and pedigree of self-determination that birthed and still underpins their own sovereign independence as nations.

The Jewish presence in the Land of Israel can never be equated with racism or colonialism, nor can it ever be considered a foreign occupation, as a people cannot colonise or illegally occupy their ancestral homeland. Israel is simply a unique historic example of an exiled people being rightly restored to their land, which many other peoples have yearned for in their own right.

The Palestinian Arabs, who claim a right to a national homeland in some or all of the same territories, have been offered an independent state on several occasions, with Israel’s assent, yet they have repeatedly rejected such offers because the terms would have allowed Jewish sovereignty to continue in parts of the land. Until the Palestinian leadership is united in its desire, willingness and ability to live at peace with a Jewish state of Israel, then other nations should not be blaming or punishing Israel for the lack of peace between the two peoples. While waiting for that day to come, the international community must respect Israel as a democratic nation and allow it the right and freedom to negotiate and determine its future borders with its Arab neighbours without undue pressure or vacuous condemnation. Israel also must be afforded the right to exist in peace and security and to defend itself from all internal and external threats.

We further recognize that the State of Israel has abided by the spirit of its founding declarations in that it has respected and protected the civil and religious rights and liberties of the existing non-Jewish communities in Israel. We also are mindful and grateful that Israel upholds freedom of religion for all peoples, and has been exemplary in its commitment to safeguard and guarantee access to the holy sites of all faiths in the Holy Land, including in Jerusalem. In this regard, we cannot accept the exclusive Muslim claim to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and believe Jews and Christians should be allowed greater access to visit and pray on that important religious and historic site as a matter of equality and fairness. Finally, we continue to affirm that the Jewish claim and connection to the city of Jerusalem dates back for millennia and that Jerusalem is and should remain the undivided capital of Israel.

Cognizant that the Jewish people’s divine calling back to their historic homeland holds great promise and blessing for the entire world, we are encouraged that Israel today is a free and liberal democracy, and a shining beacon of hope in a troubled region where democratic and human rights, as well as justice and liberty, are too often trampled asunder. We will continue to speak forth these truths about Israel and to impress them upon our government leaders, churches and communities worldwide in the effort to secure her freedom and destiny along with that of our own nations.

EU labelling of Israeli products – promoting the Middle East peace process?

On Wednesday, 2 December 2015, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) held a symposium at the European Parliament in Brussels, titled “The Economic Wall of the EU Labelling Move” hosted by MEP Takkula (ALDE, FI) and MEP Belder (ECR, NL). Main speakers included renowned international legal expert, Prof. Avi Bell, Greek Orthodox priest and founder of the Israeli Christian Empowerment Council (ICRF), Father Gabriel Naddaf, and the Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs.


MEP Hannu Takkula opened the first session of the symposium, expressing his concerns that the labelling guidelines will have enormous impacts for the EU and Israel relations. “Until now, we have been creating a good base for co-operation between EU and Israel but this labelling move will not only harm the economic relations, but also will have an unfortunate impact on the co-operation in every field.”  


MEP Bas Belder (ECR, NL) noted the mutual high concern by colleague MEPs about the ineffective recent EU labelling move and how it damages EU-Israel relations as well as any prospects for the Middle East peace process. “Which the EU is so naively forcing to restart. The labelling move will certainly not help. It’s counter-productive”, remarked Belder. He furthermore stressed: “the labelling measure will hit Palestinian workers and their family the most. Therefore, I view the European move as anti-Palestinian!”


A statement by Dr. Jürgen Bühler, Executive Director of ICEJ, was presented which noted that the EU interpretative notice will only divide Israelis and Palestinians further and hurt those it claims to help. “Despite EU efforts to downplay the political nature of the labelling move, it is clear that the guidelines have been formulated to apply pressure on Israelisand they violate the rules of the World Trade Organisation,” said Dr. Bühler ahead of the symposium.


Prof. Avi Bell clarified how the Commission’s interpretative notice violates international law. “While the interpretive notice restricts labels on Israeli products, EU law permits Taiwan and the Palestinian Authority to market products in the EU with ‘made in Taiwan’ and ‘made in Palestine’ labels that contradict EU views on sovereignty, according to which neither is an independent state. Indeed, the same interpretive notice which claims that European consumers will be misled by ‘made in Israel’ labels on Israeli products from Israeli businesses in the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, will not be misled by ‘made in Palestine’ labels on identical products made by their Arab neighbours in the Christian quarter of the Old City.”


Father Gabriel Naddaf spoke strongly against the labelling, emphasizing the inevitable harmful outcome: "As a Christian leader, raised in Nazereth, living among the Arab Muslims, I tell you clearly: this decision affects Muslims, Christians, Druze and all other minority citizens of Israel, not just the Jews. This labelling of Israeli products is a further betrayal of Christian values in Europe, and it further weakens the Christian spirit in Europe." Father Naddaf called the move to label Israeli goods “a racist, anti-Semitic decision.”


Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Binyomin Jacobs pointed at the tensions that the recent EU move has created within Europe, with Hungary and Merkel’s party opposing it. “Negativity and hostility always work both ways – internally as well as externally”, Jacobs noted.


MEP Takkula added: “As a member of the WTO, we should follow the equal treatment rule among all of our trade partners. The interpretation we are now guided to follow doesn't fulfil this requirement”. MEP Takkula hopes that Member States of the European union will not make the situation worse with more strict interpretation, but will do their share to help the market gain access to the Palestinian products. MEP Belder stressed that “Israel and the EU equally benefit from the cooperation in security, trade and science and technology sectors – just to name a few. The wide array of relations we share with the Jewish State are essential to Europe.”


In his statement, Dr. Bühler of ICEJ also noted thatIsrael’s thriving economy has produced a climate of coexistence that is unmatched throughout the Middle East. “It is the only place in the region where [all] can enjoy full democratic rights and equal access to education and economic development,” said Dr. Bühler.


The International Christian Embassy (ICEJ) represents millions of Christians, churches and denominations, seeking to demonstrate friendship to Israel and to be a reconciling influence between Jews, Christians and Arabs. Headquartered in Jerusalem the work of the ICEJ reaches some 140 countries with branch offices in over 80 nations.


Share this: