European Union flags.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called on individual EU states to pressure the European Commission to change its “double standard” toward Israel.
Netanyahu’s call came during a meeting with visiting Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand.
“European states need to pressure the European Commission to change its attitude toward Israel,” Netanyahu told Kaljurand, who served as Estonia’s ambassador to Israel from 2004 to 2006.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu protested the EU’s formal positions on Israel and accused Brussels of employing a “double standard.”
The European Commission is the EU’s executive body responsible for implementing decisions and running the EU’s day-to-day business. It is based in Brussels and Luxembourg.
Netanyahu has ramped up his public criticism of the EU since it adopted a policy regarding the labeling of products from settlements last November, while carefully drawing a distinction between Israel’s good relationship with most individual EU states and its poor relationship with the Commission in Brussels.
He repeated that position during his meeting with Kaljurand.
Estonia is one of the 28 countries that makes up the EU and is considered among the more supportive states toward Israel inside EU institutions. When EU members split their vote on Israel- related matters in international forums, as they often do, it generally sides with the bloc that either votes for Israel or abstains.
Estonia was one of five EU countries that, along with the US, voted against a UNESCO Executive Board resolution in October that condemned Israeli “aggression” on the Temple Mount. Four other EU countries – Spain, Italy, France and Austria – only abstained. And in the resolution to raise the Palestinian flag at the UN, which passed last September, Estonia was among the group of 18 EU countries that abstained, while France, Belgium, Ireland, Spain and Sweden were among the 10 that voted in favor.
Last week, the EU’s foreign ministers, making up the Foreign Affairs Council, issued conclusions on the Middle East that were highly critical of Israel.
However, intervention inside the EU by countries such as Greece and Cyprus – states with which Israel has developed much closer ties over the last few of years – prevented the adoption of language that would have been even more critical.
In a related matter, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, along with a number of his ministers, will arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday for a government- to-government meeting.
Tsipras and Netanyahu will travel to Cyprus the following day for a tripartite meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
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