The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned EU Ambassador to Israel Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal to reprimand him over the European Commission's statement that "the Israeli settlements are suffocating the Palestinian economy."
Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Rafi Barak said, "The claims exceed the Commission's mandate for technically supporting the Palestinian Authority. The statement is groundless and disregards the agreement on both sides to discuss the future of the settlements".
In an unusually harsh statement released Monday, the European Commission said Israel's settlement policy helps strangle the Palestinian economy and makes the Palestinian government more dependent on foreign aid.
"It is the European taxpayers who pay most of the price of this dependence," said the statement.
According to the EU, expropriation of fertile land for Israeli settlements, roads that serve only settlers, and West Bank checkpoints help constrain Palestinian economic growth and make the Palestinian government more dependent on aid.
The European Union is one of the largest donors to the Palestinian Authority.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also called the Commission out for ignoring a recent World Bank report indicating an improvement in the Palestinian economy.
"The Mideast Quartet (US, Russia, EU and the UN) welcomed Israel's plans to improve the Palestinian economy, and recognizes Israel's right to security," the Ministry said in its statement.
"Thanks to the cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, 140 (West Bank) roadblocks have been removed over the past few months. These measures may double the growth rate of the Palestinian economy from 5 to 10%," said the Ministry.
"Unfortunately, all of these details were omitted from the European Commission's statement. The Palestinian economy will get a major boost once the negotiations with Israel are renewed. Until that time, the Commission should focus on the tasks it has been charged with instead of leveling baseless accusations against Israel."