Arab environmental head withdraws from EU training course due to Israel delegation presence – Middle East Monitor

The director of an Arab environmental group withdrew from a European Union (EU) training course in Italy this week after an Israeli delegation appeared at the course, leading her to call on the bloc to adhere to international law by refraining from assisting elements of Israel’s occupation.

According to the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news agency, an organiser of the ‘Water and Environment Support’ project nominated Mariam Al-Jaaja, the General Manager of the Arab Union for the Protection of Nature (APN), to attend the training course in the Italian city of Bari.

Al-Jaaja and her group were surprised, however, by the presence of a delegation representing Israel and, after consulting with members from APN and the Arab Network for Food Sovereignty (ANFS), – a union of 35 entities from 13 Arab countries – she filed a public objection to the Israeli presence and then withdrew her attendance.

Criticising the EU for apparently contradicting itself by inviting Israelis to these sessions, she called on the organisers of the project to adhere to international law and rejected the claim by some participants that “training is technical” rather than political.

Al-Jaaja referred to her organisation as one that is dedicated to defending the environmental and agricultural sectors in Palestine and Jordan from “the criminal practices of the [Israeli] occupation” and that rejects the use of environmental issues “to normalise relations with the occupation”.

Regarding the EU’s project and its organisers, she stressed that “if they want to stop the conflict in a sustainable and just way, they must address its root causes such as occupation, theft of resources and violation of human rights.”

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