EU Denies Report of Derogatory Language About Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -

The European Union has denied that its ambassador to Israel used inappropriate language in criticizing the “Jewish State” bill, but did not exactly deny that he meddled in Israeli internal affairs, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hotly alleged.

Mr. Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to summon EU Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret for a formal dressing-down after reports that he told Likud MKs that the bill “reeks of racism” and could harm the country’s international standing, in an effort to persuade them to withdraw support for it.

The E.U. claimed the story was inaccurate.

“Across the world and as every diplomatic service, we engage with members from all parties in elected assemblies, including with MKs, to discuss a wide range of issues, including the legislative agenda,” a spokesperson for the EU’s mission in Tel Aviv told The Times of Israel on Friday. “We do sometimes share perceptions within the EU of policy and initiatives of our partner country. This is an important part of our diplomatic work.”

The bill “did come up occasionally as part of these regular discussions,” the spokesperson acknowledged, but not in the way it was reported.

“We in the EU would not want to see these values being put in question or even threatened. Democracy and equality, including equal rights for minorities, are key values that define our societies. The respect for human rights and fundamental principles are a key part of the EU-Israel partnership. We never used derogatory language in general and certainly not to define draft bills under discussion in the Knesset,” the spokesperson said.

Giaufret made the required appearance at the Foreign Ministry on Friday morning. But neither the ministry nor the EU office would disclose details of the meeting.