GUE/NGL has condemned plans to welcome a top Israeli military officer who played a leading role in the Operation Cast Lead onslaught on Gaza to the European Parliament.

Major General Yoav Mordechai was set to meet MEPs on Parliament's delegation for relations with Israel today – but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute this morning.

Yoav Mordechai was a battalion commander with the Golani Brigade, an elite division in the Israeli army, during Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009. This 23-day bombardment of Gaza claimed the lives of over 1400 Palestinians.

Irish MEP Martina Anderson, Chair of Parliament's Delegation for Relations with the Palestine Legislative Council, said: “Although the exact reasons why it was called off remain unclear we welcome the cancellation of the meeting. But we condemn the fact that it was set to go ahead in the first place. We can't accept someone with such a track record being welcomed to the European Parliament. Put simply, this man has blood on his hands.”

Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias added: “Giving him a platform to host a lecture would legitimise his violations of international law and human rights. Rather than giving a warm welcome to those who stand for repression and apartheid, the EU institutions should pressure the Israeli government to abide by the rules of international law and UN resolutions. We must bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

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