After five days, EU condemns kidnapping of Israeli teens

Following Jerusalem's fury over a lack of response from Ashton's office, EU calls for immediate release, safe return of seized youths.

Netanyahu and Ashton looking sullen 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Abir Sultan/Pool )
Netanyahu and Ashton looking sullen 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abir Sultan/Pool )
The EU condemned on Tuesday the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, calling for their immediate release and safe return five days after the abduction took place.
"Such acts can only undermine international efforts to encourage a resumption of peace negotiations. We are following developments closely and remain in constant contact with our Israeli and Palestinian counterparts," the European Union said in a statement.
The French embassy in Israel also released a statement of condemnation on Tuesday calling the act "cowardly" and "unacceptable."
The EU urged Israeli and Palestinian security services to operate in close cooperation to ensure the swift release of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naphtali Fraenkel.
Also on Tuesday, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen made a statement while visiting the city of Elad this morning, the hometown of kidnapped student Eyal Yifrach.
"The kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha'er and Naftali Fraenkel has brought condemnation and messages of solidarity from across the world. We stand with the Israeli people during these difficult days and offer our full support to Israel as the search for the three continues," he said. " The European Union has called for the immediate and unconditional release of these three boys – it is, frankly, despicable that children's lives should be put in danger in this way."
The European Union's remarks trailed various statements from other entities in the international community that poured in by Sunday, immediately following announcements that the yeshiva student had been taken from a hitchhiking point in Gush Etzion.
On Monday, diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s failure to quickly condemn the kidnappings of Israeli youths had “not gone unnoticed."
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.
In a public address on Monday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the entire international community to condemn the attack. The European Union had been among those that had not spoken out.
“I expect all responsible elements in the international community – some of whom rush to condemn us for any construction in this place or for enclosing a balcony in Gilo – to strongly condemn this reprehensible and deplorable act of abducting three youths. Whoever opposes terrorism needs to condemn terrorism wherever it is perpetrated. I expect other countries to join in these condemnations and to support the State of Israel’s legitimate and necessary acts of self-defense,” Netanyahu said.