Israel accuses EU of “spitting in the faces” of Israelis
Tuesday, 05 December 2017
Israel has accused the European Union of “spitting in the faces” of Israelis, and is denouncing the imminent participation of the EU Ambassador in a photo exhibition marking 50 years of occupation. This has been organised by a particular NGO, which is a pet peeve of the authorities.
These remarks come a week before the rare meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the 28 EU foreign ministers, on December 11th, in Brussels. An EU spokeswoman says that it will be “informal”.
The spokesman for the Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs, Emmanuel Nahshon, said, “EU officials believe that to win the hearts of the Israelis, they have to spit in their faces.” The remarks were made in the daily newspaper Haaretz and confirmed to AFP (Agence France Presse).
Mr Nahshon was reacting to the presence of the EU Ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, scheduled for this Thursday at an exhibition of 50 portrait photos of Palestinians born in 1967. This was the year that Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip following the six-days war.
Directly after the war the Arab states refused to negotiate with Israel about a peace settlement. Israel claims that the occupation has continued pending a comprehensive peace agreement.
The exhibition in Tel Aviv has been organised by the Israeli NGO B’Tselem. As an NGO it documents violations of human rights in occupied Palestian territories.
Questioned by AFP, an EU representative in Tel Aviv confirmed that Mr Giaufret anticipated “going to this exhibition organised to coincide with the international Human Rights Day.”
The Israeli spokesman said, “We again note the same contemptuous approach which consists in preaching both hypocritical and condescending morals, which only makes us move apart from each other, instead of bringing us closer together.”
B’Tselem is one of the pet hates of the Israeli government, considered as the most right-wing government in Israel’s entire history.
The Israeli government is leading a vigorous campaign against NGOs such as B’Tselem, respected by a large proportion of the international community, but criticised by the Israeli Right.
In April, Mr Netanyahu had cancelled a meeting with the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, following the refusal of the latter to forgo meeting with B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence representatives. The latter is another Israeli NGO, which is hostile to the occupation.
The visit to Brussels next Monday, by the Israeli Prime Minister, will take place against a backdrop of high tension around Israeli colonisation of the occupied territories.
Several EU member states are refusing to hold a formal meeting with the Israeli government. There is a lack of unanimity by the 28 as to how to condemn the colonisation of the occupied territories. Such member states are expressing their frustrations around blocking the peace process.