Knesset Rebuffs International Election Observers

israel election
Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told a United Nations group on Monday that there is absolutely no place for outside election observers in Israel and that the very idea was offensive, The Times of Israel reported.

“We have never accepted the presence of outside observers of our democratic process, and the idea that we would ever do so is inconceivable,” Edelstein’s chief of staff Eran Sidis wrote on his behalf in a letter to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM).

Using even more dramatic language, Edelstein “rejected the request as an unparalleled expression of arrogance,” in the letter sent on Sunday to the office of the secretary general of the regional forum, which has observer status at the United Nations.

It was PAM’s first such request regarding Israeli elections. The group, which comprises 26 European, North African and Middle Eastern parliaments including Israel’s, said it wanted to send “a delegation of observers” to oversee the vote.

Edelstein also got tough with Ireland on Monday, cancelling an official Israeli parliamentary delegation to that country as a sign of displeasure at an Irish bill that would outlaw the import of goods produced in areas captured by Israel in 1967.

MKs Eyal Ben Reuven (Hatnua) and Akram Hasson (Kulanu) were set to travel in March, according to a statement issued by Edelstein’s office on Monday.

The Israeli foreign ministry said it was summoning Dublin’s ambassador for a reprimand Friday, calling the vote a “disgrace.”

“It is not surprising that Ireland is again seeking to harm and boycott Israel,” Edelstein said.

“Many countries request to be hosted by the Knesset and invite Knesset members to visit them,” Edelstein added. “We would be happy to utilize the time to reach a country that wants to cooperate with the entire State of Israel and not only with parts of it, instead of wasting our time on a country that is obsessively seeking ways to hurt it.”