Israeli Minister says Europe needs to be ‘more fair’ with Israel if it wants to play a mediating role between Israel and the Palestinians

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As the European Union urged Israel and the Palestinians to quickly resume peace talks, in view of the upcoming formation of a new Israeli coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a senior Likud figure said that Europeans need to have a “more fair” attitude towards Israel should they want to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians.

“When do you accept all Palestinians demands before any negotiation, on the issue of borders, Jerusalem or the the right of return, you are not a fair mediator,” said Silvan Shalom, who was Energy and Water Minister in the outgoing Netanyahu government.

“We are very close to Europe, only 250 kms from Cyprus, we are part of Europe in many fields, we share the same values but you cannot support unilateral Palestinian moves that violate the signed agreements”, he added, in a reference to the 1996 Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians witnessed by the European Union. “An imposed agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is doomed to failure,” he said.

“We are willing to make everything in order to improve our relations with Europe,” Shalom, a former Foreign Minister who is likely to get a new post in the next Netanyahu government.

“An imposed agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is doomed to failure,” Shalom said.

Netanyahu, who was tasked this week by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, said Israel extends its hand to the Palestinians in peace, but also said that  peace and Israel’s survival depend on its strength. His Likud party started negotiations on forming a “nationalist” coalition with several parties.

“Our hand is extended in peace to our Palestinian neighbors,” Netanyahu sbut added that “the people of Israel know that real peace, that our entire future, will only be securetd if Israel remains strong.”

“Israel can only meet the many challenges it faces in the region if it is strong and united,” he said.

Netanyahu also promised to patch up ties with the US but insisted Israel would do everything to thwart the emerging Iranian nuclear deal, which he said was “an agreement that endangers us, our neighbors and the world.”

His comments came amid heightened tensions with the US over comments made by Netanyahu before last week’s general election that there would be no Palestinian state under his leadership. He later clarified those comments, saying that he doesn’t want a one-state solution. “I want a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution. But for that, circumstances have to change,” he said.

“We have to face with a tough region. On the northern border we have Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Jabat Al Nusra, Isis or Daesh in the East and in are facing with Hamas and Islamic Jihad ” Tunisia-born Silvan Shalom told a group of European journalists visiting Israel this week at the initiative of the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA).

“What would your countries do if they would have such neighbours ?,” he asked.  “Moreover you should read the Palestinian media which incites again Israel…”