The number one challenge facing Israel in 2015 is not the Palestinians, Iran or Hezbollah, but rather western Europe, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday.
Liberman, speaking at the Foreign Ministry to a gathering of Israel’s ambassadors in Europe, said Europe’s record in various international forums underscores the dilemma.
For instance, at last week’s UN Security Council vote on the Palestinian resolution calling for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in three years, France and Luxembourg voted for the proposal, while Britain and Lithuania abstained, and the US and Australia voted against.
Liberman said attention needed to be paid to the fact that the voting patterns of European countries shows there is more sensitivity and understanding to the challenges Israel faces in central and eastern Europe than there is on other parts of the continent.
He characterized Germany, with which Israel will mark 50 years of diplomatic ties this year, as the “principal anchor” of Israel’s ties with Europe.
By contrast, Liberman said the behavior of countries like Sweden and Ireland toward Israel is reminiscent of Europe’s attitude toward Czechoslovakia on the eve of the appeasement of the Nazis in Munich in 1938.
“The behavior of countries like Sweden and Ireland is the same behavior and abandonment that existed in Europe in 1938 with the Munich Agreement, when the Europeans abandoned their biggest ally, Czechoslovakia,” he said.
Like the situation in 1938, so too today, Liberman said, the polices of countries like Sweden and Ireland are ones of the abandonment of Israel, along with explanations as to why it is possible to do so.
This is happening, he said, even though Israel “is the only country that represents western values in the Middle East.”
Liberman has said he will not meet the foreign minister of Sweden when she visits the country this month because of that country’s recognition of “Palestine” and the duplicitous way in which he feels it was done.
Some of the discussions in the European Parliaments that have taken up the question of whether to recognize “Palestine,” he said, included lies and fabrications that amounted to “another chapter in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Sometimes you are shocked at how people who are supposed to be respected and serious make things up and brazenly lie during simple discussions where you expect some depth and knowledge of the things they talk about.”
Liberman directed the Foreign Ministry to circulate some of the extreme anti-Israel comments of European parliamentarians during debates on the recognition of “Palestine” last year.
For instance, Mick Wallace – an independent Irish parliamentarian – made the following comments during debates there on recognizing Palestine.
“In 1948, the Jews expelled, massacred, destroyed and raped in that year, and generally behaved like all the other colonialist movements operating in the Middle East and Africa since the beginning of the nineteenth century,” he said.
“As a result of that campaign, 500 Palestinian villages and 11 urban neighborhoods were destroyed, 700,000 Palestinians were expelled, and several thousand were massacred. It was a genocide at the time. What is happening today is not very different.”
Liberman added that Europe was mistakenly linking bilateral ties with Israel to the Palestinian issue, and that Jerusalem needed to point out that this was leading to an unprecedented rise in anti-Semitism in Europe.
Recent events in the international arena, including the Palestinian Authority’s decision to join the International Criminal Court in the Hague, he said, show that both the Oslo accords have collapsed, as has the approach in Israel advocating a preservation of the status quo.
The keywords for Israeli diplomacy in 2015, he said, need to be “Israeli initiative.”
With elections on the horizon, Liberman has recently stepped up his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a lack of initiative on the diplomatic track.