Senior Israeli diplomat tells Europeans their complaints ‘piss me off’

A Foreign Ministry official told European ambassadors that their litany of 30 articles of complaint “pisses me off.”

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)
European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN)

A senior Israel diplomat rebuked European ambassadors for protesting Israeli policies in the West Bank and violence by settlers.

Fifteen European ambassadors led by the UK Charge d’Affaires Mark Power, came to the Foreign Ministry and met with Deputy Director-General Aliza Bin Noun for a démarche, a diplomatic protest, against Israel on December 8.

They also protested house demolitions and evictions from Palestinian homes, as well as the Government of Israel’s decision to declare six Palestinian civil society NGOs terrorist organizations. That designation came in light of the NGOs’ ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the EU designates a terrorist group.

An Israeli diplomatic source said the European ambassadors read about 30 articles of complaint against Israel, including violence by settlers, which has been a hot political topic in Israel in recent weeks.

They also protested about planned construction in E1 by Ma’aleh Adumim and in Givat Hamatos in east Jerusalem, and the general situation in the West Bank.

 European Union Representative to the Palestinian Authority Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff speaking at the old Kalandia airport, November 22, 2021. (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF) European Union Representative to the Palestinian Authority Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff speaking at the old Kalandia airport, November 22, 2021. (credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

Bin Noun told the ambassadors that their litany of complaints “pisses me off,” an Israeli source said.

She said that the current government is making gestures towards the Palestinian authority – referring to increased work permits for Palestinians and other forms of cooperation – so the complaints are out of place.

The démarche was “not connected to reality on the ground nor to the relations between the countries and the usual conversation between them,” the Israeli source said. “If 16 representatives show up with complaints, it’s like an attack.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lior Haiat said that the meeting with the European ambassadors included discussion of cooperation, as well as disagreements.

“In parallel with the warming of relations, sometimes the Europeans present stances and claims in a way that is not acceptable to us, and it is the right thing to respond to them clearly and incisively, even if that response is unpleasant to European ears,” Haiat said.

In recent weeks, violence by settlers against Palestinians has been a part of the Israeli political and diplomatic conversation.

Arguments in the coalition on the matter were first sparked last month when Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said he had discussed it with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, and a senior diplomatic source lamented that Washington asks about settler violence “obsessively.”

This week, Deputy Minister Yair Golan called violent settlers “subhuman,” sparking an uproar, with many accusing him of antisemitism and of using the Nazi term untermenschen.