EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s failure to quickly condemn the kidnappings of Naphtali Fraenkel, Gil- Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach has “not gone unnoticed,” diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said on Monday.
The officials said that while the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the International Committee of the Red Cross all condemned the kidnappings by Sunday, as of Monday afternoon there was no statement from Ashton or her office.
An official at the EU delegation in Tel Aviv told The Jerusalem Post that strong reaction was expected later on Monday, but as of 9 p.m., no such statement had been issued. The absence of a statement left Israeli officials wondering.
“Maybe they didn’t know about it,” one diplomatic official said caustically, contrasting the time it took the EU to condemn the kidnappings with the rapidity in which they regularly condemn announcements of Israeli construction beyond the Green Line. A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said that they, too, were taking note of who was condemning the kidnappings.
The EU has applauded the recent Hamas-Fatah unity moves, calling them an important step toward the intra-Palestinian reconciliation necessary for a two-state solution.
Rafi Schutz, the foreign ministry’s deputy director-general for Western Europe raised the issue in a meeting he had with EU ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen on Monday. The ambassador began to explain that it took time for the EU to release the statement because it was the weekend, while Schutz pointed out that over the same weekend the EU released a statement against Israel relating to Palestinian prisoners.
Schutz summoned Faaborg-Andersen to the ministry to issue a démarche, protesting the joint statement that the EU foreign ministers put out following a meeting with the Arab Leagues’ foreign ministers, last week in Greece.
Schutz protested that the statement was completely imbalanced, adapting the Arab narrative on everything from calling Israel “the occupying power” in the Gaza Strip, to the Arab’s position on Jerusalem.
He also pointed out an indication of the imbalance, saying that while the document devoted two pages to Israel, it only devoted one page to Syria, a few lines to Ukraine and was completely silent on Iran.
Meanwhile the message Israel’s representatives abroad are carrying to their interlocutors as a result of the kidnappings is that the Fatah-Hamas pact “opened the door” to wider Hamas activity in the West Bank, and that “dozens of attempted kidnappings” have been prevented in the last year alone.
“The international community should unequivocally condemn the Hamas attack on innocent Israeli teenagers,” a Foreign Ministry statement read.