The European Union responded with a denial on Wednesday to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent accusation of hypocrisy and bias against Israel.
It was the EU’s first public answer to Netanyahu’s angry outburst after an apparently coordinated summons of Israel’s ambassadors in London, Paris, Rome and Madrid to protest the latest announcement of construction beyond the 1967 lines.
EU’s Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen maintained that they conduct an even-handed Mideast policy.
“I don’t think that there is any argument that we are imbalanced,” The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.
“I don’t see any basis to the allegations that we are being one-sided and not evenhanded on these issues.”
The EU envoy said that the Europeans are “very critical of anything on the ground that can hurt the process,” including rockets from Gaza, incitement, house demolitions, and further construction over the Green Line.
Netanyahu had asked rhetorically when the EU ever summons Palestinian envoys to protest frequent terrorist attacks or incitement.
However, Faaborg-Andersen was unusually blunt in threatening Israel with the economic consequences of failed peace talks:
“If Israel were to go down the road of continued expansion [in Yehuda and Shomron] and were there not to be any result of the current talks, I’m afraid that what will transpire is a situation in which Israel will find itself increasingly isolated,” the EU envoy said.
“Not necessarily because of any decisions taken at a governmental level, but because of decisions taken by a myriad of private, economic actors, be it companies, pension funds or consumers, who will be choosing other products on the supermarket shelves.”
He cast doubt on Israel’s resilience in the face of a widening boycott. “To think you can shift all your cooperation, trade, everything overnight to India, China and Russia, well I have my doubts,” he said.
In another attempt at even-handedness, Faaborg-Andersen also noted the Palestinians’ dependence on some 1 billion euros of assistance each year, making it by far the largest donor to their economy.
“It has been made very clear to the Palestinians that just sitting around and waiting is not an option.”