Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO
PM Netanyahu with John Kerry in Rome ahead of Palestinians' UN bid
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Despite US support, Israel suffers string of diplomatic blows

US slams EU move to remove Hamas from terror list, but diplomatic sources says that while Israel is under attack in diplomatic arena, Netanyahu hiding behind clichés.

"If Netanyahu had better relations with European leadership, some of these decisions could have been prevented," a top diplomatic source said after Israel suffered back-to-back diplomatic setbacks in Europe Wednesday as Palestinians headed to the United Nations to try to set a two-year deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.



"We believe that the EU should maintain its terrorism sanctions on Hamas," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday after the EU moved to remove Hamas from its list of terror organizations, however the source said such support does not protect Israel in Europe.


Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (Photo: AFP)


"Our biggest problem," the source said, "is that the Europeans have stopped talking with us, and started talking about us."


Members of Israel's diplomatic corps and Foreign Ministry are anxiously watching recent develops, the most prominent of which is the Palestinian bid to attain statehood and an end of the Israeli control of the West Bank through the UN Security Council.


"We had a tough day in the international arena (and) the prime minister is hiding behind the memory of the holocaust," the source said in reference to Prime Minister Netanyahu's response to recent events, in which he said "It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing."


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: GPO) (Photo: Amos Ben Gershom, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: GPO)


"The comments are cheap and inappropriate," the source said.


'Tough day for Israel'

In Geneva, the international community delivered a stinging rebuke to Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, saying the practice violates Israel's responsibilities as an occupying power.


The declaration adopted by the conference of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the rules of war and military occupation, emphasized a prohibition on colonizing occupied land and insisted that international humanitarian law be obeyed in areas affected by the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.


It called for "all serious violations" to be investigated and those responsible for breaches to be brought to justice.


"This is a signal and we can hope that words count," said Swiss ambassador Paul Fivat, who chaired the one-day meeting. The US and Israel did not take part.


Swiss Ambassador Paul Fivat led the conference in Geneva. (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Swiss Ambassador Paul Fivat led the conference in Geneva. (Photo: EPA)


Israel's UN Mission blasted the gathering, saying: "It confers legitimacy on terrorist organizations and dictatorial regimes wherever they are, while condemning a democratic country fighting terrorism in accordance with international law."


In Luxembourg, meanwhile, a European Union court ordered the Palestinian group Hamas removed from the EU terrorist list for procedural reasons but said the 28-nation bloc can maintain asset freezes against Hamas members for now.


The Islamic militant group, which calls for the destruction of Israel, hailed the decision, but Netanyahu expressed outrage.


"In Luxemburg the European court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations, Hamas that has committed countless war crimes and countless terror acts," Netanyahu said, adding that Israel would continue to defend itself "against the forces of terror and tyranny and hypocrisy."


The EU court ruled that the terrorist listing of Hamas was based on press and Internet reports and not on "acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities."


The EU, which has two months to appeal, was considering its next step.


In New York, an Arab-backed draft resolution on ending Israel's occupation of lands captured in 1967 was being submitted later Wednesday to the UN Security Council for a vote, the Palestinian foreign minister said.


However, foreign minister Riad Malki said the actual vote might be put off, suggesting a compromise is in the works to avoid a clash in the council.


The current draft, sponsored by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians, sets November 2016 as a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from war-won lands the Palestinians are seeking for a state.


Hamas rally in Gaza (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Hamas rally in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)


Israel fiercely opposes any suggestions that the Security Council can set a framework for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which broke down again in the spring after the two sides couldn't agree on the ground rules.


The United States was scrambling Wednesday to avert a showdown at the Security Council. US Secretary of State John Kerry was talking to European and Arab foreign ministers about a potential meeting this weekend in the Mideast, possibly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Obama administration is studying the EU's court decision but the US continues to consider Hamas as a terrorist organization.


The US hasn't said how it would respond to the Jordanian resolution, but Kerry took a hard line in meetings this week in Europe against any effort that could interfere with Israel's elections in mid-March.


"We want to find the most constructive way of doing something that therefore will not have unintended consequences, but also can stem the violence," Kerry told reporters in London on Tuesday. He said the situation marks "a particularly sensitive moment" given rising tensions between Israel and Palestinians.


Israel did one win diplomatic engagement in Europe on Wednesday, this one at the European Parliament. The lawmakers meeting in Strasbourg, France, stopped short of pushing for an outright recognition of a Palestinian state, urging renewed peace talks instead.


Legislators voted 498-88 in favor of a compromise resolution supporting "in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood" - but as part of a two-state solution with Israel. The resolution supports two states on the basis of 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both.


Associated Press contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 12.17.14, 23:41
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