The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) has announced that it recently led a delegation of national and European parliamentarians to assess the political situation in Tunisia. According to the CEPR press release:
The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) led a delegation, consisting of national and European parliamentarians, to assess the political situation in Tunisia one year after the revolution. As Chair of the delegation, Lord Alderdice stated that they were “hugely impressed and encouraged by the progress made in the democratic transition of the country.” From March 31 – April 3, the CEPR delegation met with the Tunisian President, Moncef Marzouki, as well as the Human Rights Minister, plus the leaders of the main political parties, and youth representatives. Tunisian President with the CEPR delegation. Source: Agence Tunis-Afrique Presse. Delegates raised the following key issues during their visit: the transition to democracy, economic challenges facing the country, the role of Islam in politics, and Tunisia’s position in international relations. Focusing on re-building Tunisia, international and Tunisian delegates expressed their support for Palestinian statehood and restoring Palestinian rights. Leaders of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said that the “previous administration did not do enough to help the Palestinians”. Ennahda Party members said they were holdind meetings with Fatah and Hamas to help encourage national reconciliation efforts. President of Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi, said: “democracy will be the answer to the whole region… there is no other way.” While Tunisia faces considerable economic problems – exacerbated by a fall in tourism and instability following the revolution – all delegates remarked on the overall sense of optimism for Tunisia’s future. In his closing remarks with President Marzouki, Lord Alderdice emphasized the role played by Tunisians in sparking the Arab protests and claimed that: “regardless of whether or not Tunisia wishes to be a model for others, it is!” The 2012 CEPR delegation to Tunisia: Lord John Alderdice – House of Lords, UK Dr. Phil Bennion – Member of European Parliament Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter – House of Lords, UK Mr. Pádraig Mac Lochlainn – Teachta Dála, Ireland Mr. Gerald Nash – Teachta Dála, Ireland Mr. Rare?-Lucian Niculescu – Member of European Parliament Mr. Adrian Radut – Political Advisor Ms. Clare Short – Former Secretary of State for International Development, UK Dr. Arafat Shoukri – Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) Mr. Drew Smith – Member of Scottish Parliament Mr. James Tuite – Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) Mr. Humza Yousaf – Member of Scottish Parliament -
Last March, a post discussed a CEPR statement condemning Israel’s latest military actions in Gaza.
The CEPR Web site describes the organization as follows:
The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) is an independent not-for-profit organisation which has been established to promote dialogue and understanding between European, Palestinian and Arab parliamentarians and policy-makers. It seeks a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on justice and the restoration of Palestinian rights in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law.
Despite its claim of independence, the CEPR is headed by Dr. Arafat Shoukri (aka Arafat Madi, Arafat Madi Shoukri) who is also the executive director of the Palestine Return Centre (PRC) in the U.K. The PRC has strong ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood and two PRC directors are also directors of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), generally regarded as part of the UK. Muslim Brotherhood. The PRC is also listed as an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) dominated by UK. Muslim Brotherhood groups. PRC activities are frequently promoted by the MAB, MCB, and other U.K Brotherhood organizations. PRC director Ghassan Four is also a Trustee of INTERPAL, a key member of the Union of Good and part of the Muslim Brotherhood Hamas fund-raising network . PRC director Zaher Birawi is a Trustee of Education Aid for Palestine (EAP), also a part of the Union of Good. Mr. Birawi is also head of programming for Al-Hiwar TV which frequently features MB/Hamas individuals and organizations and was founded by Azzam Al-Tamimi, a U.K Muslim Brotherhood leader and close to Hamas. An Israeli web site, known to be close to Israeli military intelligence, has reported that Mr. Birawi, along with another PRC Trustee are “past Hamas operatives who found refuge in Britain in the early nineties.” Dr. Shoukri is also the chairman of the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG) which was the main organizer of the unsuccessful Second Gaza Flotilla and which operates from the same address and has the same telephone as the PRC. The CEPR appears to operate largely as a lobbying group at the EU and has accompanied EU lawmakers on trips to Gaza.