The president of the European Commission has come under fire from the Palestinians after she said warm words congratulating Israel for its 75th anniversary.

Ursula von der Leyen gave a congratulatory video on Israel’s Independence Day on Wednesday in which she praised Israel, including for having “made the desert bloom”.

But the Palestinian Authority was not happy, accusing the EU leader of racism and calling for her to apologise for making an “anti-Palestinian racist trope”. In turn, the “unacceptable” Palestinian reaction has been strongly rebuked by the European Commission in what is a rare rift between the two parties.

A spokesperson for the commission told the BBC: “The EU is unpleasantly surprised by the inappropriate statement of the Palestinian foreign ministry accusing the president of the European Commission of racism.”

“We are requesting clarification from the Palestinian authorities regarding this unacceptable reaction to her video.”

In the video, which has amassed over 2.9m views, Von der Leven said, “Seventy-five years ago, a dream was realised with Israel’s Independence Day. After the greatest tragedy in human history, the Jewish people could finally build a home in the promised land.”

“Today, we celebrate 75 years of vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East, 75 years of dynamism, ingenuity and groundbreaking innovations. You have literally made the desert bloom, as I could see during my visit to the Negev last year.”


This year, we want to do more to bless Israel and the Jewish people.

We know that as we bless Israel this year, God will bless us, just as He promised in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Now is the time to bless Israel and the Jewish people.