PM urges Europe to be more balanced toward Israel

Netanyahu questions Europe's political positions when it comes to Israel in meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Netanyahu and Barroso 370 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Netanyahu and Barroso 370
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged Europe to adopt a more balanced approach to Israel during a conversation held on Monday in Jerusalem with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, according to an official who was in the meeting.
Netanyahu spoke warmly about the close ties between Israel and Europe and the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
But he also questioned Europe’s political positions when it comes to Israel.
National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, who was also at the meeting, said he was concerned by the lack of balance when it came to Europe’s stance on Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza compared to its statements about vandalism against West Bank mosques, said the official.
Amidror recalled an incident in which he received a phone call from a senior European official who said that the mosque incidents were of grave concern to the EU, the same day that Palestinians fired scores of rockets at the South. But the pressing issue for Europe that day was not the rocket fire, but the mosques, he said, according to the official in the meeting. On that same day, EU ambassadors also called the Foreign Ministry about mosque vandalism.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) also spoke with Barroso about the disproportionate manner in which Israel is treated at the United Nations Human Rights Council. He took issue with Friday’s UNHRC appointment of a three-member panel to probe Israeli settlement activity, particularly in light of the violence by the Syrian government against its citizens.
He noted that Syria wants to seek UNHRC membership. He called on Europe and the United States to cut its ties with the council, as Israel did this spring.
Rivlin warned Barroso that those who believe that the settlements are a cancer have fallen prey to anti-Israel demagoguery.
“The truth is simple: When the Palestinians want peace there will be peace. Neither the settlements, nor their evacuation, constitute an obstacle to peace,” Rivlin told him.
Barroso told Rivlin that settlement activity makes life difficult for the Palestinians and does not advance peace.
During Barroso’s meeting with Netanyahu he called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations, which have been frozen since September 2010.
“I really think it is a good moment to restart some hope regarding the so-called Middle East peace process,” Barroso said.
His meeting with Netanyahu followed those he held Sunday in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and in Jericho with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.