Allís well that ends well
In the end common sense prevailed and MEPs voted last night in favour of the best interests of European citizens and passed the long awaited ACAA between the EU and Israel (Protocol of the EU Ė Israel Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products) by a vote of 379 votes to 230, with 41 abstentions at the European Parliament.
For those that may not recall earlier blogs (here, here and here) written on this issue, this will mean that Israeli pharmaceuticals will now be more accessible at more affordable prices to all EU citizens at a time of scarce resources throughout Europe. This doesnít only make good financial sense, with health providers in the EU saving up to Ä10 billion per year on Israeli pharmaceuticals, but as Israel is one of the worldís leading providers in pharmaceutical products for a broad range of serious and often life threatening illnesses such as multiple sclerosis (highly prevalent in European countries), it means that patients will also be getting the best medications available on the international market as quickly as possible.
I have to say, Iím feeling rather proud. Proud that sanity has prevailed for all the above reasons, proud of our European Parliamentarians, who didnt give way to the prejudice and double standards of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigners and proud that Israel is able to share its amazing scientific knowledge for the benefit of the rest of Europe. Iím also just a little bit proud (well maybe a lot) of the wonderful two- year campaign the Public Affairs team at the Board of Deputies of British Jews has run, together with other international Jewish organizations, and particualrly those based in Brussels, to explain to MEPs, civil servants and the general public that passing the ACAA agreement makes good sense.
Suddenly all those awful early morning starts at the crack of dawn, to catch the Eurostar to Brussels, seem worthwhile. Itís been truly inspiring to see how, as a community, making clear, honest arguments we really can break the cycle of delegitimization of the State of Israel.
During the debate, it was impressive and uplifting to hear MEPs speaking up about Israel as an important trading partner for the EU, as a bastion of democracy in the Middle East, decrying those that spoke against the motion and shaming those that have filibustered this important piece of legislation for years.
This is a resounding victory against those that wish to undermine Israel in the international arena with irrational double standards. As one MEP explained, blocking ACAA does nothing for the peace process - rather it impedes it by undermining the EU as an honest and fair broker. For peace to happen it is in the interests of the EU for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to prosper.
Thanks to all our Deputies who supported this campaign by contacting their MEPs and making their voices heard. Every single voice was important. This demonstrates how commitment and effort can achieve important results and sends the strongest message to our detractors that Israel and Israelis can make an important contribution to humanity.
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