United Nations Security Council 311 (R).
(photo credit: ERIC THAYER / Reuters)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded Thursday to a Foreign Ministry statement that harshly criticized a recent European condemnation of Israeli settlement policy. Speaking to Israel Radio, Barak said that European countries are very relevant and are on our side on the important strategic issues.
The Foreign Ministry had said Wednesday that European countries are "bound to lose their credibility" and are making themselves "irrelevant.”
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Barak said that Israel must exercise diplomacy in informing friendly European leaders of their mistakes, but avoid entering into direct confrontations. He added that recent statements from Washington about the Iranian capability to build a bomb within a year are accurate, according to the Israel Radio report.
Israel’s anger had been triggered by a
statement released on Tuesday by the four current EU members of the UN Security
Council – France, Britain, Germany and Portugal – that forcefully condemned
Israel’s recent announcements of building in the territories and east
“All settlement activity, including in east Jerusalem, must
cease immediately,” the statement said, calling on Israel to reverse these
steps, and saying announcements of continued construction “send a devastating
The statement also slammed “the disturbing escalation of
violence by settlers,” saying they were “deliberately provocative actions”
designed to aggravate tensions.
The statement welcomed Israeli
condemnations of the “price-tag” violence, and called on Israel to fulfill its
commitments to bring the “perpetrators to justice and to put an end to
The statement continued: “The package of measures announced by
Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu in response to settler violence goes in the
right direction. We look forward to seeing the results of these measures, and to seeing those behind
the violence punished to the full extent of the law.”
However, the part
of the statement that most infuriated Jerusalem was its backing of the
Palestinian interpretation of the Quartet’s September 23 statement, which set
out a framework for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
the parties to present as soon as possible to the Quartet comprehensive
proposals on territory and security,” the council members said.
contradicted a statement put out by representatives of the Quartet – which is
made up of the US, EU, Russia and UN – just last week, which said these
comprehensive proposals should be presented by the sides to each other in direct
The Palestinians said earlier this month that while they have
presented the Quartet with comprehensive proposals on security and territory,
Israel has refused to do so, creating the impression that Jerusalem was
obstructing the process.
Israel’s position is that these comprehensive
proposals need to come out of negotiations between the sides, and not as a
result of the Quartet mediating between them. The US has publicly backed this
position.Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for
Shutz said Thursday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was not
responsible for a harsh Wednesday statement criticizing Europe's condemnation of Israeli settlement policy, according to Army