EU Envoy Slams Netanyahu's Accusations: We're Not Biased Against Israel

Head of EU delegation to Israel responds to PM's criticism of European countries as 'hypocritical,' says consumer boycott of settlement products is gaining momentum.

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assertion that European countries are biased against Israel is not true, the head of the European Union delegation to Israel said Wednesday.

"There's no basis to the accusations that we are one-sided," said the EU official, Lars Faaborg-Andersen.

He made the comments at a press briefing in Jerusalem on Wednesday in response to Netanyahu's statement last week that some EU states had summoned Israeli ambassadors so the countries could lodge a protest at Israel's construction of 1,400 housing units in the West Bank.

At the time, Netanyahu criticized the move as "hypocritical" and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ordered the ambassadors of the four countries – Britain, France, Italy and Spain – to be summoned for a reprimand in Israel in return.

Faaborg-Andersen met with Lieberman and his deputy, Zeev Elkin, this week to discuss their criticism of EU conduct regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We condemn any decision about construction in the settlements, but there is no public condemnation of rocket fire from Gaza," Elkin said he told the EU representative.

Faaborg-Andersen said the European Union is evenhanded.

" Those who say we are not balanced don't have a case," he told reporters at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. "We are in close dialogue with the Palestinians too."

The envoy said the European Union has told the Palestinians it is concerned by incitement against Israel and by rocket fire from Gaza, just as it has expressed concern about continued Israeli construction in the settlements.

"We told the Palestinians there is no plan B if talks fail and that nothing will come out of doing nothing," said Faaborg-Andersen. "We told them that there is donor fatigue and that we will not pick up the tab. It is unrealistic to think that."

The EU envoy also issued a warning to Israel about the possible failure of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to reach a "framework agreement" that would allow for continued talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"If Israel continues with the settlements and talks fail, there might be a situation where Israel finds itself more isolated," said Faaborg-Andersen. "It will not be a result of decisions by governments but by the private sector and consumers," he said, referring to a consumer boycott of Israeli goods manufactured in the West Bank.

"The cause for labeling [settlement products] is gaining momentum," he said. "Every time when there is an announcement on building in the settlements, it fuels the discourse in Europe."

If peace talks fail, he added, "There is a danger that our relations will go backwards and not forward. I want to hope it will go forward."

Construction site in the West Bank settlement of Modiin Illit. Settlement construction − and not any talks or prisoner release − is the only thing that creates solid facts.Credit: AP

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