Monday

16th Jul 2018

Netanyahu comments put EU relations in doubt

  • Netanyahu, in a speech in Washington earlier this month on the Iran nuclear talks, already soured US ties (Photo: John Boehner)

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said that if he is re-elected there will be no Palestinian state, putting in doubt the future of EU-Israel relations.

He made the announcement in a video clip for Israeli news agency NRG on Monday (16 March), on the eve of general elections on Tuesday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

“I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel … there is a real threat here that a left-wing government will join the international community and follow its orders”, he said.

Asked explicitly if he rejects the two-state solution, he answered: “Correct”.

He gave the interview in Har Homa, a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, on the other side of Israel’s 1967 border. He added that he gave the green light to Har Homa’s construction in his previous time as PM in order to prevent Palestinian statehood.

"I thought we had to protect the southern gateway to Jerusalem by building here … there was huge objection, because this neighbourhood is in a location which prevents Palestinian [territorial] contiguity”.

Netanyahu’s comments are an attempt to win right-wing votes to improve his position in post-election coalition building.

His Likud party currently trails the centre-left Zionist Union, led by Isaac Herzog, by four points, meaning the Israeli president would appoint Herzog to launch coalition talks if the result stays the same.

Herzog, also on Monday, took the opposite line on the Palestinian conflict, saying: “I promise: I will be a prime minister to everyone … for right and left, for settlers, Haredim, Druze, Arabs, Circassians; I will be prime minister for the center and for the periphery”.

But the elections have been dominated by internal issues - such as housing, the economy, and the personalities of the leaders - indicating fatigue and lack of faith in the peace process.

Meanwhile, other politicians on the right have come out with even more radical statements.

"Those against us, it cannot be helped, we must lift up an axe and behead them - otherwise we will not survive here”, Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, from the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, said last week on the loyalty of Arab Israelis.

If Netanyahu does retain power, his anti-Palestine comments pose fundamental questions for EU relations.

For her part, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, also on Monday, named a senior EU official, Fernando Gentilini, the architect of the Kosovo-Serbia normalisation pact, as her new envoy for the Middle East Peace Process.

She said his task is to “work towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution”.

In practice, EU diplomats are waiting for the US to restart talks in the final months of president Barack Obama’s second term in office.

But the prevailing mood in Washington is that there’s no point if Netanyahu retains office, meaning the two-state idea would be put on hold for years to come.

The new status quo could see the EU impose mini-sanctions, such as publishing a code on retail labels for settler goods.

It could also see an increasing number of EU countries, including France, recognise the state of Palestine.

But without US engagement, neither EU restrictive measures nor diplomatic recognitions would change facts on the ground.

The two-state solution, in any case, involves moving, by force, more than 110,000 Israeli settlers from East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The number of settlers in sensitive places has grown by some 10,000 a year on Netanyahu’s watch.

“I think what he said tonight [in the NRG clip] was stating the essence of his true policies - he was never a man of the two-state solution,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told the New York Times.

“I hope his statements tonight will be an eye-opener”, he added.

EU diplomats unsure how to handle Netanyahu

EU diplomats are hoping Israel’s PM didn’t mean what he said on the two-state solution. But if he did, they have few ideas how to change his mind.

Opinion

How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism

The suggestion that Russians themselves play a role in the condition of their state today is often dismissed as "xenophobic" or "Russophobic". But if not addressed, the evils of nationalism, chauvinism, and imperialism will continue even after Putin is gone.

Opinion

Will EU suspend trade deal with Cambodia?

The EU has been slow to react to the collapse of Cambodian democracy - but if it ever chooses to use it, Brussels has substantial influence and leverage over Cambodia.

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  2. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  3. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  4. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  5. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  6. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  7. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit
  8. Trump wades into Brexit after Nato fiasco

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us