Netanyahu: Israel Is Entitled to European Support, Not Only Criticism

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden may visit Israel in the coming weeks, prime minister says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the PM's office in Jerusalem on February 14, 2016.
AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred at Sunday's cabinet meeting to his conversation with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini that ended the crisis that erupted following the EU's decision to mark products from the settlements.

"Israel represents democratic values and therefore is entitled to European support and not only criticism," the prime minister said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

In November, Netanyahu ordered Israel's Foreign Ministry to suspend contact with European Union institutions over all issues related to the peace process with the Palestinians in response to the EU's decision to label products made in the West Bank.

According to Netanyahu, Mogherini said in their telephone conversation last Friday that the EU opposes any boycott of Israel and isn’t treating the act of marking settlement products as one that reflects Europe's position on Israel's final borders, which could be determined only by direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

"I think that it was a welcome step," Netanyahu said. "It doesn’t mean that there won't be friction. There are matters we don’t agree on and there will also be friction with specific countries in Europe. But the very fact that Mogherini spoke out firmly against BDS and against sanctions on Israel is a step in the right direction."

Netanyahu also said that a possible visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Israel in coming weeks is being discussed. "Biden's preliminary team is arriving in Israel today," Netanyahu said. "A date hasn’t been set for the visit, but obviously Biden is a welcomed guest in Israel."

A senior Israeli official said that Biden will probably arrive in Israel in the first two weeks of March. Biden's planned visit was first reported by Shlomo Cesana in Israel Hayom.