A change in EU attitudes towards Israel? In a briefing to Israeli reporters Tuesday, European commissioner for Justice Freedom and Security, Frano Frattini, said that the steps leading up to the Gaza blackout cannot be construed as a war crime and criticized the incessant Qassam rocket fire on Israeli civilian population centers.
In a lecture sponsored by the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, Frattini also issued a massive mea culpa to the State of Israel on behalf of the European community for its treatment of Israel during the second Intifada.
“There has been a large misunderstanding in recent years between Europe and Israel. And Israel is justified in its concerns. For too long, Europe has put too much blame on Israel for lack of peace with the Palestinians. We, as Europeans, should have understood Israel's concerns sooner,” said Frattini.
The European official also noted that “as friends, it was our duty to criticize when we felt criticism was needed, but we did it too often and unfairly. We asked you to take risks and often we didn’t provide you with assurances that you wouldn't stand alone if things went badly.”
Frattini continued to say that, “Europe's attitude towards Israel is changing, and Europe better Today, Europe better understands the complexities of the Middle East landscape.”
Commenting on the rising tide of Anti-Semitism throughout Europe, which has often led to marked tension between Israel and various European nations, Frattini maintained that “We are strongly fighting against Anti-Semitism in Europe. This kind of prejudice has no place in Europe today and never will. We will not tolerate Anti-Semitism and we take it very seriously.”
The European commissioner also congratulated Israel on the Annapolis peace summit, calling it “a new opportunity in terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which we must not let slip through our fingers. To make 2008 the year of Israeli-Palestinian peace, we must remember the lessons of the past and move forward,” he concluded.
Bolton: Israel's hour to take action against IranAlso speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center Conference Tuesday was former US Ambassador the UN John Bolton.
Bolton harshly criticized US policy towards Iran, and said that there was a "close to zero percent chance that the Bush administration will authorize military action against Iran before leaving office.”
He also noted that the US “used to have a policy on Iran and recently there was a new push to create a new policy but, sadly due to the direction American Policy is going, it seems that for the next few years the United States will be a bystander to the process.”
Roni Sofer contributed to this article