Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz attacked the European Union on Wednesday, saying the EU can "go to a thousand thousand hells" over its call to investigate Israel Police's brutality against Israeli Arabs.
Only two weeks ago, Steinitz praised Israel's ties with the EU during the May 9 celebrations of Europe Day at the residence of the EU ambassador to Israel.
The EU on Tuesday condemned Israeli police's crackdown on Israeli Arab protesters in Haifa after they demonstrated against the high death toll at the border with Gaza.
In the statement, the EU also said "it will also be important, as supported by the Israeli government to conduct a swift investigation into circumstances surrounding events last week in Haifa which appeared to result in serious injury of Jafar Farah, Director of the NGO Mossawa, the Advocacy Centre for Arab Citizens in Israel".
"Let them go to a thousand thousand hells," Steinitz told a local radio, while also slamming the EU as hypocritical. "The EU is now sucking up to Iran and will help [Tehran] against U.S. sanction," he said.
- Israeli Minister Blasts 'Biased and Obsessive' EU Over Calls to Investigate Police Brutality
- Israel to Deport Senior Human Rights Watch Official, Citing Alleged BDS Activities
Steinitz complained that the EU is "harassing" Israel while "Iran is carrying out executions, torturing homosexuals, violating women's rights, supporting terrorism and Assad, who is spreading chemical weapons to his people."
He said that Farah, who accused police of breaking his knee after he was arrested, was already being investigated by the Justice Ministry.
Steinitz said that he "sent to hell the European Union which doesn't really represent the European nations. This is an organization that no one is leading and is less friendly to Israel than the European states themselves."
The EU is one of Israel's largest trade partners, with total trade worth of 36 billion euros a year. Israeli exports to the EU in 2017 increased by some 20 percent, bringing EU's share in Israeli exports to a historical high of 34 percent. Israel and the EU have extensive institutional cooperation and investment programs under various agreements.
As many as 21 activists were detained by police following the march in Haifa, including the head of the Mossawa Advocacy Center Jafar Farah, who was allegedly injured after being arrested by police.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan responded to the EU's demand, saying that "Israel, as the only democracy in the Middle East, does not need moralistic warning calls from a biased and obsessive body like the EU."