Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Israel: EU support for Palestine is 'biggest challenge'

  • The ICC bid and Israel's reaction bode ill for new peace talks (Photo: DG Jones)

Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman has described EU support for Palestine as Israel’s top diplomatic challenge after a UN vote on withdrawal from the occupied territory.

Speaking at a meeting of Israel’s European ambassadors in Jerusalem on Sunday (4 January), he said: "Our biggest challenge is not the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states, but Western countries … The best example here is the [UN] Security Council vote. Of its members, three EU countries participated in the vote and two voted with the Palestinians, France and Luxembourg, while one country, Britain, abstained”.

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He described Germany as the “principal anchor” of Israeli-EU relations.

He noted that Israel should cultivate better ties due to its trade dependence on the bloc: "In terms of Israeli exports, Western Europe has this big market … We will have to deal with Western Europe, with the EU".

But he accused some European politicians of anti-Semitism by comparing their statements to appeasement of Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II.

"Some European nations' conduct is reminiscent of 1938, just before the Munich Agreement … The conduct by countries like Sweden and Ireland is reminiscent of how [European powers] abandoned Czechoslovakia to its fate. Now they are making all kinds of excuses to abandon Israel”, he said.

"Sometimes, you are just amazed by the amount of lies, fabrications, and the distortion of reality you find in the records of meetings held by European parliaments. It's like another chapter in 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’.”

The protocols are a fake Jewish “manifesto” for world domination circulated by 1930s Germany as justification for its purges.

Lieberman spoke after the UN Security Council, following a US veto in a vote on Friday, rejected a Jordanian resolution calling on Israel to withdraw troops to 1967 lines.

France is working on its own resolution giving Israel and Palestine two years to reach an accord or face French recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Sweden recently became the first sitting EU state to recognise Palestine, while a string of national EU parliaments called for similar measures if there is no progress.

For her part, the EU’s new foreign relations chief, Federica Mogherini, in a communique on the UN vote urged “both parties to resume negotiations urgently and to refrain from any action further undermining the viability of the two-state solution.”

But Palestine’s bid, filed also on Friday, to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in order to prosecute Israeli soldiers for war crimes, met with a harsh reaction.

Israel, in retaliation, froze transfers of more than €100 million of Palestinian tax revenues and has called on US lawmakers to suspend the €330 million a year in US aid which helps the Palestinian Authority pay its civil servants.

The moves are set to leave the EU, which pays around €1 billion a year in aid to Palestine, as its only Western sponsor.

Lieberman added the ICC development leaves Israel free to abandon its commitments to the Oslo process, a 1990s template for creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

“The first conclusion that can be made from the Palestinian Authority’s move is that the Oslo accords have collapsed,” he said.

Israel’s intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, noted in remarks on Army Radio that “if the Palestinian Authority doesn’t take one step back, I believe that we need to take much more drastic steps up to the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority”.

Interview

EU recognition of Palestine: What is it good for?

Seven European parliaments last year voted in favour of recognising Palestinian statehood, but for Palestinian human rights lawyer Raji Sourani EU lawmakers are missing the point.

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