EU Ashton’s Silence on Kidnapping Has Israel Seething

YERUSHALAYIM -

International condemnation of the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers was registered by Sunday from a number of countries — including the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Spain, as well as by the U.N. — but not the European Union.

On Monday, Israeli diplomats were seething over the silence from EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s office, which has always been swift to condemn any building projects in Yehudah and Shomron and welcomed the Fatah-Hamas unity government.

“The matter has not gone unnoticed,” diplomatic sources in Yerushalayim said on Monday.

“Maybe they didn’t  know about it,” one diplomatic official said sarcastically.

A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said that they, too, were carefully following international reaction, The Jerusalem Post reported.

An EU official in Tel Aviv promised a strong reaction later on Monday, but the belatedness has added to the impression that Ashton is not a friend of Israel.

Meanwhile, over 20 European members of parliaments (MPs) from 15 different countries, signed a declaration condemning the kidnapping, Arutz Sheva reported.

“We support Israel’s right to defend its citizens from acts of war and terror, as is the duty of every sovereign nation. We condemn in the strongest terms the recent kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers and demand that the Palestinian Authority actively assist in securing their safe return,” read the joint statement.

The declaration was signed during the Israel Allies European Summit held in Budapest. The Summit aimed to “address the future of Europe-Israel relations in light of the recent European election results and the rise of the extremist right in Europe.”

As part of the European gesture of support, a delegation of 40 French MPs made a special trip to Israel on Monday to visit the families of the three kidnapped teens and with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“The kidnapping shows more than anything else Hamas’s intentions,” MP Meir Habib, the head of the delegation, said. “It is important that this message is relayed in France, too: Peace cannot be made with terrorists.”

The group told the Frankel family in Nof Ayalon that they will pray for their son, Naftali, who was abducted in Gush Etzion last week.

Habib noted that this was the largest official delegation from France to Israel ever.

Also Monday, Germany called for the release of the three captives.

“We are concerned about the whereabouts of three youngsters who disappeared … we condemn this action and urge those responsible to release them, free of harm, immediately,” a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said.