EU Strongly Protests Israeli Settlers' 'Smear Campaign' Against Ambassador

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Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen as portrayed in the settler video.
Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen as portrayed in the settler video.Credit: Screenshot

The European Union has strongly protested a campaign by a new settler organization against its ambassador to Jerusalem Lars Faaborg-Andersen.

In a meeting with Israel's ambassador to EU institutions in Brussels, David Waltzer, on Monday, senior EU officials demanded that Israel condemn what they called the "smear campaign" against Faaborg-Andersen at the very highest levels.

The campaign, which was revealed Channel 10 TV on Sunday night, is organized by the Jerusalem Periphery Forum, a newly-established organization comprising settlements adjacent to the road leading from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea (Route 1.)

Under the slogan "Curbing Andersen," the campaign includes a video distributed over social networks in which the ambassador is compared to Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer from the film "Silence of the Lambs."

The video claims that the ambassador is undermining Israel's sovereignty and assisting terror through the EU-funded temporary housing provided to homeless Palestinians and Bedouin in the area of Route 1.

In the meeting with the Israeli ambassador, the senior EU officials asked for the Israeli government to take action to make the Forum remove the video from its Facebook page. The Israeli envoy said that he will relay the request, but stressed that the legality of the action will have to be examined. A senior Foreign Ministry official noted that on Monday afternoon the ministry's legal department submitted a request with the Justice Ministry to look into the matter. 

European diplomats said that EU deputy director general Christian Leffler met with the Israeli ambassador on Monday and informed him that the EU sees the campaign against the ambassador in a very serious light, regards it as a direct threat to his life and expects a strong Israeli response from higher levels than those who have responded until now.

Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold published a statement on Sunday, several hours after the video was posted on Facebook, in which he "condemned the disrespectful way in which the ambassador of the EU was portrayed."

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also criticized the video, saying that the "personal attack against the EU ambassador is inappropriate."

"Criticism against illegal construction is substantive criticism, voiced by the government as well, and it shouldn't become personal," she added.

Following the meeting in Brussels, the EU published a sharp statement of condemnation. "The video posted by an Israeli settler group attacking the Ambassador of the European Union to Israel is appalling," the statement said.

"Resorting to personal threats and slander can never be justified, despite differences of opinion.

"To raise allegations of the EU supporting terror is unacceptable.  We appreciate that the Israeli government has quickly condemned the video and we trust that the Israeli authorities will take appropriate action."

The statement added that the provision of portable homes to Palestinians in the Route 1 area is "humanitarian assistance to communities in need in the West Bank, in accordance with the humanitarian imperative." The assistance, it said, includes "providing shelter to otherwise homeless people."

The EU stressed that, "According to its obligations under international humanitarian law it's actually Israel's own responsibility as the Occupying Power to cater for the basic needs of the population in question. Failing that Israel has the duty to agree to and facilitate international relief schemes and grant unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance."

The settler campaign against the EU ambassador come just two weeks after Israel and the union concluded their crisis over the marking of good from West Bank settlements. Dialog regarding the Palestinians was renewed after a three-month hiatus, following a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and EU policy chief Federica Mogherini.

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