Israel Attacks European Criticism of West Bank Settlement Activity

European members of UNSC call plan for new building beyond Green Line 'wholly negative'; Foreign Ministry: Detractors are bound to lose their credibility and make themselves irrelevant.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel denounced European criticism of settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Wednesday, saying the "bickering" of European Union members of the UN Security Council was making them "irrelevant."

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Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in January. Credit: Emil Salman

Israel's response came a day after the four European Union members of the UN Security Council strongly criticized Israel's decision to speed up construction of settlements, which they termed a "wholly negative" development.

A statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that the EU members of the Security Council would be well advised to exert their efforts on resuming direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, instead of "interfering" in Israel's internal affairs.

"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 Foreign Ministry called on European UNSC members to "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."

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni criticized the Foreign Ministry's statement, saying, Israel is starting a war against her greatest friendships in Europe.

Without legitimacy in the world we wont be able to fight against terror as we have in the past, she added.

"This misreading only adds obstacles on the path towards renewing peace negotiations. Interfering with Israel's domestic affairs, including on issues which are to be solved within the framework of direct talks, does not enhance the status they wish to be granted," the statement added.

Moreover, Israel suggests that the European UNSC members focus on the international agenda rather than turn upside down the fitting priorities of the international community," the statement added.

"In Security Council discussions they should have concentrated on peacemaking in bloodshed hotspots such as Syria, on enrooting democracy and moderation in Arab countries aspiring to freedom, and on difusing the global danger embodied in the Iranian nuclear race. The European UNSC members have chosen to do what is easy and unnecessary, rather than muster their courage and do that which is difficult and necessary.

In the statement by EU UNSC members released on Tuesday, the ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany and Portugal issued a joint statement branding the Israeli settlements in Palestinian occupied territories and East Jerusalem as illegal under international law.

"We call on the Israeli government to reverse these steps," the statement said. "The viability of the Palestinian state that we want to see and the two-state solution that is essential for Israel's long-term security are threatened by the systematic and deliberate expansion of settlements."

The statement, issued following the 15-country Security Council's closed-door discussion on the situation in the Middle East, condemned Israeli settlers' violence against the Palestinians, including the burning of the Nebi Akasha mosque in West Jerusalem and the Burqa mosque in the West Bank.

On Monday, Germany responded to a new Israeli plan to build 1,000 new housing units beyond the Green Line, with Merkel spokesperson Georg Streiter saying that the announcement that it would seek contractors to build apartments in both areas conveys "a devastating message with regard to the current efforts to resume peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians."

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