Text size

The Foreign Ministry criticized yesterday European support for a UN Security Council condemnation of new construction in the settlements and "price tag" attacks by settlers.

The diplomatic confrontation began Tuesday evening at the monthly Security Council debate on the Middle East, which was turned into "a frontal attack against Israel," a senior source in the Foreign Ministry said.

The attack was led by the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, and the ambassadors of India, Brazil and South Africa, but Britain, Germany, France and Portugal chimed in, the source said. The only ones who didn't participate in the attack were the American representatives.

The criticism was focused on "price tag" attacks by extremist settlers against Palestinians, the continued construction in the settlements, and the argument that Israel refuses to give the Quartet on the Middle East its positions on borders and security arrangements - items meant to be discussed during peace negotiations.

"The debate was conducted in the most disgusting fashion," said the senior Foreign Ministry official. "They brought up every mosque that was torched and claimed that the state authorities were not doing anything against settlers harming the Palestinians."

The Foreign Ministry also said the four European countries "pulled a fast one" on Israel when, after the debate, they released a statement repeating much of what was said during the closed-door meeting, and doing so behind Israel's back.

The European statement condemned the "disturbing escalation in violent attacks carried out by settlers" and called on Israel to bring the perpetrators to justice. They also called continued construction in the settlements "devastating."

The senior ministry official said the statement by the Europeans angered even the most moderate voices within the Foreign Ministry. What aggravated them most was the implication that the government wasn't acting against the price tag perpetrators.

"This is a gross interference in Israel's internal affairs," said the senior source.

Verbal onslaught

The Israeli embassies in the four European countries were instructed to convey a vehement protest to the respective governments. The Foreign Ministry also issued a sharply worded attack against the Europeans.

"In Security Council discussions they should have concentrated on peacemaking in bloodshedding hot spots such as Syria, on rooting democracy and moderation in Arab countries aspiring to freedom, and on defusing the global danger embodied in the Iranian nuclear race. If, instead of contributing to stability in the Middle East through these steps, they invest their efforts in inappropriate bickering with the one country where the independent law and justice system can handle lawbreakers of all kinds, they are bound to lose their credibility and make themselves irrelevant," the statement said.

The statement also warned the Europeans against distorting the Quartet framework for renewing talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

"The European UNSC members must adhere to the wording of the Quartet plan and refrain from giving it interpretations that contradict both the letter and the spirit of the original text. This misreading only adds obstacles on the path toward renewing peace negotiations. Interfering with Israel's domestic affairs, including on issues which are to be solved within the the framework of direct talks, does not enhance the status they wish to be granted."