Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called in the ambassadors of Britain, France, Italy, and Spain on January 17 to “stress to them that their perpetual one-sided stance against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians is unacceptable and creates the impression they are only seeking ways to blame Israel,” said his spokesman.
A statement released by the ministry said that Lieberman asked that the envoys be told that “Israel is making great efforts to enable the continued dialogue with the Palestinians.”
“Beyond being biased, unbalanced and ignoring the reality on the ground, the positions held by these [EU] states significantly harm the possibility of reaching some sort of agreement between the sides,” the statement read, as quoted by AFP news.
Lieberman’s spokesman told AFP that the envoys were being summoned for a Friday, January 17 meeting. Another Israeli official told AFP that calling in ambassadors for a same-day meeting was a rare move indicative of the degree of offense caused.
The controversy between Israel and the four EU members is the result of a diplomatic dispute over an announcement from Israel’s housing ministry a week ago that Israel plans to build 1,400 new housing units in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Following the announcement, the four EU nations summoned Israel’s ambassadors in London, Paris, Rome, and Madrid to register the respective nations’ disapproval of the Israeli settlement expansion.
Shortly after returning from a January 16 meeting in Amman, Jordan, with King Abdullah II, Netanyahu directed a strongly worded statement at the EU, accusing it of “hypocrisy” in condemning Israel’s settlement construction, but not the Palestinians for incitement or continued terrorism, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The EU’s high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, has said that the building of the settlements is “an obstacle to peace and threatens to make the two-state solution impossible.” Netanyahu, speaking at a reception held in Jerusalem for foreign journalists, condemned Ashton’s statement and asked when the EU countries last called in the PLO ambassadors to “complain about incitement to Israel’s destruction,” or to protest that security officers from the Palestinian Authority were participating in terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis.
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Photo of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman: AP Images