EU warns nation state bill could harm Israeli democracy

“The respect for human rights and fundamental principles are a key part of the EU-Israel partnership."

July 13, 2018 18:00
1 minute read.
President Reuven Rivlin and European Union Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, October 23, 2017.

President Reuven Rivlin and European Union Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, October 23, 2017.. (photo credit: PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON OFFICE)


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Israel’s nation-state bill harms the country’s democracy, EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret warned on Friday.

Giaufret spoke out after Channel 2 reported Thursday that he had urged parliamentarians not to support the bill, which codifies the idea that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then summoned Giaufret to the Foreign Ministry, which reprimanded him on Friday.

No further action was taken.

Giaufret issued a general response to the media on the matter in which he said that all diplomats discuss a wide range of issues with their host countries, including with their politicians.

“The Jewish state bill did come up occasionally as part of these regular discussions” with MKs, he said.

“How Israel chooses to define itself is an internal issue for Israel to decide and we respect the internal debate, which is ongoing,” Giaufret said.

He said the EU values Israel’s commitment to the shared values of democracy and human rights, which has characterized their long standing and fruitful relations.

“We in the EU would not want to see these values being put in question or even threatened. Democracy and equality, including equal rights for minorities, are key values that define our societies,” Giaufret said. “The respect for human rights and fundamental principles are a key part of the EU-Israel partnership.”

Giaufret said the EU never used derogatory language in general and certainly not to define draft bills under discussion in the Knesset.

The EU has increasingly been at odds with Israel over its activities in the West Bank and Gaza, particularly its continued settlement building and its demolition of illegal Palestinian structures in Area C.

The union has also urged Israel not to demolish the Palestinian Beduin village of Khan al-Ahmar, located on the edge of the Kfar Adumim settlement, east of Jerusalem.

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