Palestinian leaders and social media users alike criticise the European Commission president for comments saying Israel makes ‘the desert bloom’ when marking its 75th ‘independence’ day.
(Al Jazeera) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s congratulatory message on Israel’s 75th year of independence has been met with a swift backlash in Palestine.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) called von der Leyen’s message “inappropriate, false and discriminatory” in a statement on Wednesday.
The PA said her remark about Israel making “the desert bloom”, in particular, is an “anti-Palestinian racist trope” and the day instead marks 75 years of Israel’s “colonial project”.
Von der Leyen lauded Israel’s democracy and its ties to Europe.
“Today, we celebrate 75 years of vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East,” she said.
“Today, we also celebrate 75 years of friendship between Israel and Europe,” the German politician said. “We have more in common than geography would suggest: our shared culture, our values and hundreds of thousands of dual European-Israeli citizens have created a deep connection between us.”