Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
If the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas set to start Tuesday in Cairo do not yield significant Israel concessions, the EU should consider trade sanctions against Israel, Denmark’s foreign minister said on Monday.
According to the website of the Danish English news site, The Local, Martin Lidegaard told the Danish Jyllands- Posten newspaper that if Israel does not commit to end its “blockade” of Gaza and stop “illegal settlements,” then tougher steps should be adopted.
“If nothing happens in the peace talks this time, and if we don’t see a new pattern of response from Israel’s side, then we will need to discuss the possibility of taking new steps, including changes to our trade relations with Israel,” he said.
“I hope that it doesn’t come to that, but I think that the EU’s policies are moving in that direction,” he said.
His comments about the EU “moving in that direction” are at variance with a growing sense in Jerusalem that Islamic State has led to a greater understanding among many governments in the EU for what Israel is up against.
Israel did not seem particularly troubled by Lidegaard’s comments, nor interested in turning them into a full-blown diplomatic incident with Copenhagen.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said only that Lidegaard “is mistaken and does not understand the situation. When he comes to visit in Israel, he will certainly understand the reality and understand that Israel is not responsible for the stalemate.”
There are no plans at present for a visit by the Danish foreign minister.
Even in Denmark his words received a cold reception.
The country’s trade minister, Mogens Jensen, was quoted by Jyllands-Posten as saying, “Only when a broad international coalition can agree on sanctions do I think it is reasonable to consider that action. I’m not at a point where I can say that there is a need for sanctions.”