Meretz chair to Ashton: Lieberman's attack on EU was politically motivated
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman harshly criticized the EU's policy toward Israel after its 27 member states condemned Israel's planned construction in the E-1 area.
Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-on sent a special letter to the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday in which she condemned the attack made earlier by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on EU states.
"We do not accept a politically motivated statement which is addressing political partisan expediency at the expense of Israeli diplomatic relations with Europe,” Gal-on wrote Ashton. “We condemn in the strongest words any allegation that European Ministers for Foreign Affairs aspire to see Israel in harm's way and its future in doubt."
Lieberman on Tuesday harshly criticized the EU's Israel policy after foreign ministers of its 27 member states condemned Israel over construction plans in the E-1 area, located between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumin. Lieberman compared the EU's policy toward Israel concerning the Palestinians to the behavior of European countries toward the Jews during the Holocaust. "From the point of view of some of the European foreign ministers," Lieberman said, "the destruction of Israel is apparently something that is taken for granted."
Earlier on Wednesday, Israel Radio commentator Chico Menashe reported that senior Foreign Ministry officials claim Lieberman directed his words at four specific European foreign ministers who opposed a condemnation of Hamas’ calls for the destruction of Israel. The four, according to the report, were the foreign ministers of Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Ireland. If this is the case, Lieberman's remarks seem even more peculiar. These are four relatively small states, so it is unclear why the foreign minister had decided to project their stance on that of all 27 members of the EU.
In a meeting on Wednesday with EU Ambassador in Israel Andrew Standley, Gal-on handed him the letter addressed to Ashton. "On behalf of the party I chair, Meretz, as well as in the name of a multitude of likeminded Israelis who are supportive of peace with Palestine and between Israelis and Palestinians, I hereby wish to express outrage and condemnation of statements made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman," Gal-on wrote. "We object in no uncertain terms to accusatory language used against any European government of indifference to the security of Israel."
Gal-on added that she and the members of her party share the EU's concern regarding the urgent need to renew the peace process. “We advocated for support of the Palestinian initiative in the United Nations General Assembly to secure the status of non-member state. We believe it is a substantial contribution in the direction of exiting the political impasse, which endangers the brittle security and stability in the Middle East."
Gal-on added that Meretz shares the EU’s “conviction that settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem are an obstacle to peace and impede any possibility to bring about the realization of the two-state solution.”
The Meretz chairwoman also expressed concern over Israel's decision to freeze the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinians, which she said could harm the security in the region. “Any punitive measure the Government of Israel applies toward the Palestinian Authority is undermining sensitive security interests of both Palestine and Israel and is motivated by irrelevant domestic partisan considerations,” Gal-on said.
She also noted that Meretz severely condemns statements made earlier this week in Gaza by Hamas’ political chief Khaled Meshal, who called for the destruction of Israel.
Gal-on concluded the letter by expressing appreciation for the EU’s support of Israel’s security and prosperity.
Earlier on Wednesday, Hatnuah chairwoman Tzipi Livni also blasted Lieberman's remarks. “Comparing Israel’s situation today to the Holocaust is contempt for the Holocaust,” she said. “It’s an incorrect comparison, and incomprehensible. There is absolutely no similarity between the situation of Israeli citizens today and that of European Jews then. Not everybody is against us, and not everyone is anti-Semitic.”
The fact that the international community criticizes the policies of the current government in Israel, Livni said, does not mean that the world does not accept Israel as a state.
“I think this policy must change,” said Livni, “not as a favor to the world, but because it is in Israel’s basic interest. Renewing negotiations with the Palestinians won’t just maintain Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state, but will also stop the erosion and restore to Israel the legitimacy to take military action when necessary and to safeguard its security interests.”