Israel engaged in tit-for-tat diplomacy with four major European powers on Friday, summoning their ambassadors to protest an imbalance in their policies toward Israel and the Palestinians. Last week those four countries called in Israel’s ambassadors to protest the announcement of new settlement construction.
At the instruction of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, the Foreign Ministry called in the ambassadors of Britain, France, Italy and Spain on Friday.
The meetings came within 12 hours of a speech Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave Thursday night slamming the EU for “hypocrisy” in taking Israel to task for settlement construction, but never calling in the PLO ambassador to protest continued Palestinian incitement calling for Israel’s destruction or the involvement of PA officials in terrorist acts.
The four European countries called Israel’s ambassadors in last week to protest the recent announcement of 1,400 units in the major settlement blocs and the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in northern Jerusalem, beyond the pre-1967 lines.
A statement Liberman issued said the ambassadors were called in to protest their “consistently one-sided position against Israel that always backs the Palestinians.”
According to the statement, this is “unacceptable and creates a feeling that they are only looking to place blame on Israel.”
Liberman directed the ambassadors to be told that Israel was taking great efforts to make possible a dialogue with the Palestinians, and that the position of these countries, beyond being imbalanced and ignoring the reality on the ground, “is significantly harming the chances of reaching an accord.”
Netanyahu, in a speech to foreign journalists on Thursday, expanded on this idea, saying, “I think it’s time to stop this hypocrisy. I think it’s time to inject some balance and fairness into this discussion. Because I think this imbalance and this bias against Israel doesn’t advance peace. I think it pushes peace further away. Because it tells the Palestinians: ‘You can basically do anything you want, say anything you want, incite any way you want, and you won’t be held accountable.’”