Liberman Risks Israel's Relations With Europe

Article Summary
The sweeping condemnation of European countries by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman undermines Israeli diplomacy with friendly nations, writes Ben Dror Yemini.

Israel is acting foolishly. In fact, it seems as if it invites the next intifada — the ideological intifada, which is liable to prove just the preamble to the third intifada. Thus, it insists on going ahead with its construction plans in the territories [Judea and Samaria] in defiance of worldwide condemnation, and in its obstinacy it turns even its allies against it.

It seems that this time around, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman, who resigned from office Dec. 14, holds the record for antagonizing the world. Liberman lashed out this week [Dec. 11] against the European foreign ministers, accusing them of regarding “Israel's destruction as a given.'' The next day [Dec. 12] Liberman pointed the same finger at the European heads of state themselves.

Thus, making two rash declarations, one after the other, Liberman erased at a stroke any difference between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leaders of the European Union.  However, Liberman is much wiser and far more realistic than may be suggested by his public image. It is therefore a pity that, when it comes to guarding his tongue and choosing his words, he often slips up, demonstrating that his rivals apparently know what they are talking about.

Only a few weeks ago during Operation Pillar of Defense, Nov. 14-21, the European Union heads of state sided with Israel, openly and officially supporting its right to defend itself against Hamas. At the time, they refrained from condemning Israel. And they did not even claim that its air strikes on Gaza were “a disproportionate reaction.” Rather, they unequivocally and without any reservations backed Israel. Those same European countries and that same European Union voiced their support for the “Quartet’s principles,” which stipulate that Hamas must recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce terror and violence, and honor past agreements [between the Palestinian Authority and Israel] — as a precondition for international cooperation with the organization. Alas, Hamas has adamantly rejected these requests, opting for resistance.

So that, while there is certainly room for dissatisfaction with and censure of certain moves taken by some of the European Union Foreign Ministers, there is no basis for the allegation that Europe regards Israel's destruction as a given and ignores calls for the annihilation of Israel.

We do have well-based arguments against the Europeans concerning their hypocrisy and the double standards they employ, and their financing of bodies that encourage the demonization of Israel and the Palestinian recalcitrance under the guise of “human rights.”

Furthermore, the four European Union member states — only four — that objected to the official condemnation of Hamas following the calls for the destruction of Israel, made by Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau Khaled Meshaal on his visit to the Gaza Strip [over the weekend of December 7-8], should be put to shame for their disgraceful position. These four countries, and only these four, deserve every denunciation. However, when Liberman comes up with such sweeping accusations, when he makes such an absurd, hyperbolic allegation of European consent to the annihilation of Israel, he is rendering the just claims Israel does have null and void.

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Found in: liberman, israel, hamas, gaza, fatah, european union, europe
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