Israel Accuses 4 Countries of Meddling in Its Affairs
December 21, 2011
By ISABEL KERSHNER
The heated diplomatic exchange reflected growing tension and frustration over the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. International criticism has focused on Israeli settlement construction, while Israel blames the Palestinians, and now some European capitals, for placing obstacles in the way of renewing long-stalled direct peace talks.
The Foreign Ministry’s response came a day after a joint statement by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, delivered at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The Europeans pointed to repeated Israeli announcements of plans to accelerate construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to a recent spike in violence by radical Israeli settlers, including the burning of mosques.
In response, Israel berated the Security Council members for paying more attention to the settlers’ arson and vandalism, which was strongly condemned by Israeli leaders, than to the bloodletting in Syria.
The Europeans called on Israel to reverse its settlement building plans, saying that they were illegal, sent a “devastating message” and threatened the prospects for a two-state solution.
International condemnation of the construction is not new, but Israel was upset by the unexpected severity of the rebuke.
“We felt that the European statement broke all the diplomatic rules,” said Yigal Palmor, the Foreign Ministry spokesman. “You aren’t meant to issue such a harsh statement by surprise, without prior consultation.”