There is no official European boycott against Israel and there will not be one, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in Jerusalem on Tuesday night, as he received an honorary doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
“Boycott is a very tough word. To boycott means to completely block cooperation and trade between countries," he said. "We are not speaking about such a boycott." He said that in his opinion, "a boycott is not a solution for anything."
"There is no boycott," he maintained. "In the European Parliament there is for sure not a majority for a potential boycott.”
Schulz also told Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog that the boycott moves against Israel in Europe were not political, adding that "Israel's problems in Europe is with the business sector." He insisted that, "there will not be a decision in Europe to boycott Israel."
Israel has been facing increasing sanctions in Europe over the settlements in the West Bank, with many companies choosing to cut ties with Israeli businesses that have ties to the settlements.
The issue was brought into the international spotlight last month due to Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson's endorsement of Israeli company SodaStream, which has a factory in the industrial zone of a West Bank settlement. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is leading the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, has also warned that Israel will face increased boycott threats should the talks fail.
The EP president also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. He told Herzog that "everyone is radiating pessimism" about the peace process.
Schulz is due to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, and he will also speak at the Knesset.
Meanwhile, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen told the Knesset website this week that, ”Israel is an important partner of the European Union and the Middle East peace process is one of the EU`s foreign policy priorities, and therefore a visit to Israel is almost a must for every European Parliament president.”