Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

Israeli leader mocks EU 'dismay'

  • 13th century German map showing Jerusalem at the centre of the world (Photo: leuphana.de)

Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has mocked EU foreign ministers' "dismay" over his plan to split Palestine in three and to take away its capital.

The right-wing politician on Monday (10 December) told press in Jerusalem that EU ministers were talking nonsense when they said that creating 3,000 new settler homes in the so-called E1 district is a huge threat to peace.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I don't understand how people say that a Palestinian state cannot exist if Maale Adumim is connected to Jerusalem ... These are the same people who say that you'll have a Palestinian state between Gaza and the West Bank, and they're divided by 60-70km," he said.

"That's fine, that doesn't preclude a Palestinian state in their minds but the fact that Maale Adumim can be connected to Jerusalem by a corridor of 2-3km, [the EU says] that somehow prevents a Palestinian state. That's not true. It's simply false," he noted.

"If you repeat a falsehood endlessly, it assumes the cache of truth," he added.

The names E1 and Maale Adumim are unfamiliar to average Europeans who have not studied the map of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Maale Adumim is one of the existing Israeli settlements which together form a near-complete ring around East Jerusalem. E1 is the last gap in the ring - a patch of barren hills inhabited by a few Bedouin tribesmen.

If Netanyahu builds on E1 it will seal off East Jerusalem and split the West Bank in half.

It means that the future Palestinian state would lose its holy capital.

The 290,000-or-so Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem would become stateless people who reside in Israel but without Israeli citizenship.

It also means the rest of Palestine would be split into three cantons. One of them would be the Gaza strip on the Mediterranean coast. The other two would be the north West Bank and the south West Bank.

The only ways to get from the main economic centre of Ramallah in the north to Bethlehem in the south would be via a 16-metre-wide Israeli-controlled road running through the Israeli ring, or by driving for several hours on an as-yet-unbuilt road through the Judaean desert to the east of the ring.

The EU ministers in their communique on Monday said they are "deeply dismayed" by the idea, because it "would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states."

For their part, two Israeli experts said that it is Netanyahu who is talking nonsense.

"If you tell me there can be an agreement between Israel and Palestine without Jerusalem, I'll ask: 'What have you been smoking?'," Danny Seideman, a lawyer who set up the Israeli-based NGO, Terrestrial Jerusalem, told EUobserver.

"If he [Netanyahu] says that he can make peace like this, then he is telling the Israeli public lies," Hagit Ofran, a project director in the Israeli-based NGO Peace Now, said.

The EU ministers also threatened to "act accordingly" if Netanyahu does not back down, highlighting Israeli settlement products as an area for potential punitive action.

For Seideman, the threat of Israel's increasing international isolation pales into insignficance compared to the threat of war with Palestine, however.

The EU statement also criticised Hamas - a Palestinian militant group which holds sway in Gaza - after its leader Khaled Meshal last weekend called for the destruction of Israel at a rally attended by more than 100,000 people.

"The EU finds inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders that deny Israel's right to exist unacceptable," it said.

But EU diplomats know that Netanyahu's E1 plan is likely to make Hamas the dominant force in the West Bank as well as in Gaza. The plan makes Hamas' rival, the Fatah party - which has staked its reputation on diplomacy and a two-state solution - look stupid.

In the last exchange of fire in November, Hamas rockets hit the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

In the last war with Hamas' ally Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon in 2006, over 160 Israeli citizens lost their lives.

In the last intifada, or mass Palestinian uprising, which ended in 2005, over 1,000 Israeli citizens were killed.

Meanwhile, the Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood has taken power in Israel's southern neighbour, Egypt. Its eastern neighbour, Jordan, has become dangerously unstable. Its other neighbour, Syria, has been penetrated by jihadist warlords and its main regional enemy, Iran, is believed by some Western intelligence experts to already have a nuclear bomb.

"This is not a drill. This is not a psychodrama. This is a geopolitical drama of the highest order. Netanyahu is not posturing. He is thrusting forward to what he believes is the best settlement for Israel's final borders," Seideman told this website.

"The Israeli public is sipping cappucinos on the edge of a volcano," he added.

Israel vs. Palestine: one-nil?

Israel last month showed off its high-tech weapons by scoring a "goal" with bombs in a Gaza football field. But civilian deaths and settlement expansion have caused diplomatic defeats.

UN vote marks EU defeat for Israel

Just one EU country - the Czech Republic - voted against Palestine's bid to become a UN "observer state" on Thursday.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Cyprus talks up in the air

A week after the failure of negotiations to reunite the islands, Greek Cypriots are calling on Turkish Cypriots to reaffirm their commitment to the process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  2. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  3. EU2017EEPM Ratas: EU Is Not Only an Idea for the 500mn People in the Bloc, It Is Their Daily Reality
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy
  5. ILGA-EuropeGermany Finally Says Ja - Bundestag Votes for Marriage Equality!
  6. EPSUJapanese and European Public Sector Unions Slam JEFTA
  7. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  8. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  9. EU2017EEEstonia to Surprise Europe With Unique Cultural Programme
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Vs. Critical Voices
  11. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  12. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law