December 22, 2011
The diplomatic faceoff between Israel and the European members of the United Nations Security Council began as soon as Tuesday night, following the UNSC’s monthly session on the Middle East.
A senior Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz that what would have been a mundane discussion turned into an “attack on Israel,” lead by Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin along with the Indian, Brazilian, and South African representatives.
However, sources said that the assault wasn’t limited to the representatives of those nations, with European UNSC members joining in as well. The only country reportedly not engaging in the unusual bout of criticism was the United States.
The discussion’s focal points were the so-called “price tag” attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank; continued settlement construction; and claims that Israel refused to provide the Quartet with its stances on issues such as borders and security arrangements in a future peace deal with the Palestinians.
“The whole debate was conducted in a disgusting manner,” a Foreign Ministry official with knowledge of the UNSC proceedings told Haaretz, adding that “Israel was assaulted with every minute detail, mentioning every mosque that was torched and arguing that state authorities weren’t doing anything to stop settler attacks against Palestinians.”
Foreign Ministry officials said that the EU representatives “hijacked” the session, when, following it, they decided to release a joint statement detailing the contents of the sealed meeting.
In the statement the diplomats criticized the council’s failure to take action against escalating violence by Israeli settlers and urged a speedy resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, also speaking for EU members France, Germany and Portugal, said “Israel’s security and the realization of the Palestinians’ right to statehood are not opposing goals.”
The envoys called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denouncement of the acts a “step in the right direction,” adding, however, that they were waiting to see real results.
On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry director general Rafael Barak held a special ministry session following the statement, with one source saying that the Germany and U.K.-led maneuver managed to enrage even the most moderate among ministry officials, who usually disagree with Foreign Ministry Avigdor Lieberman on his tough stances regarding the Palestinians.
“The Europeans pulled out the horn and turned up the volume to a thousand decibels,” one official said, adding that the move was “unacceptable and unfriendly.”
Most of the Foreign Ministry indignation was over a portion of the statement that dealt with the price tag attacks, and which hinted that the Israeli government wasn’t acting to apprehend the perpetrators.
“It’s a blatant interference in Israel’s internal affairs,” one ministry official said, adding that that statement is “a veiled threat that if Israel doesn’t prosecute the perpetrators the EU will drag it into international courts,” he added.
According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, Israeli embassies in Germany, U.K., France, and Portugal were instructed to submit a harsh protest to their local foreign ministries by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, an unprecedentedly severe official response was made, in which Israel attacked the three most powerful nations of Europe, considered Israel’s closest friends on the continent.
However, even with that backlash against the U.K., France, Germany, and Portugal, the Foreign Ministry has decided against publically or diplomatically appealing to Russia, whose UN envoy lead the anti-Israel attack.