Last night Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to suspend contacts with EU representatives regarding the political process/peace process with the Palestinians.
Mr Netanyahu has ordered contacts to be frozen until “a reassessment process is completed”.
The MFA indicated in a statement that Israel was withdrawing from several bilateral forums dealing with the Palestinian issue.
“We have suspended the subcommittee on diplomacy, the subcommittee on human rights and international organizations,” the ministry said. “The remaining dialogues [with the EU] are continuing as planned
The move is a response to the recent decision by the EU to label settlement products from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister said: “The EU has decided to label only Israel, and we are not prepared to accept the fact that Europe is labelling the side that is being attacked by terrorism.” He then went on to add: “The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand this.”
It should be stated that whilst Israel is suspending cooperation and work with the European Union itself on the peace process, it will continue diplomatic cooperation with individual member states such as Germany, Britain and France.
In addition to the suspension of contacts with the EU, and as part of its fight against the EU decision, Israel has decided to take measures against 16 European countries: the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium and Finland.
The measures include summoning the ambassadors of the 16 countries to the Foreign Ministry for an official rebuke; and restricting meetings between ambassadors and senior Israeli officials to low-level government staffers.
Here at EIPA we view this as a worrying move at a time when EU-Israel co-operation in fighting the terror and threat of terror should be at its peak.
As firm believers that the EU and Israel have much to share and co-operate on, we urge both sides to be restrained in their language and to rebuild the important political and diplomatic ties that both share.
We will of course keep you up to date on latest developments and to clarify the situation going forward. In the meantime we again urge cool heads to prevail, so that this situation can be seen as a diplomatic storm in a teacup that can and will be overcome as quickly as possible.