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Netanyahu to EU states: Pressure Brussels to change its attitude toward Israel

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Itongadol.- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called on individual EU states to pressure the European Commission to change its “double standard” toward Israel.

Netanyahu\’s call came during a meeting with visiting Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand.

“European states need to pressure the European Commission to change its attitude toward Israel,” Netanyahu told Kaljurand, who served as Estonia\’s ambassador to Israel from 2004-2006.

According to a statement issued by the PMO, Netanyahu protested the EU\’s formal positions on Israel, and accused Brussels of employing a “double standard” toward Israel.

The European Commission is the EU\’s executive body responsible for implementing decision and running the EU\’s day-to-day business. It is based in Brussels and Luxembourg.

Since the EU adopted the policy of labeling products from the settlements last November, Netanyahu has ramped up his public criticism of the EU, carefully drawing a distinction between Israel\’s good relationship with most individual EU states, and its poor relationship with the Commission in Brussels. He repeated that position during his meeting with Kaljurand.

Estonia is one of the 28 states that makes up the EU, and considered among the more supportive states toward Israel inside the EU institutions. When, as they often do, EU countries split their vote on Israel-related matters in international forums, Estonia generally votes with the bloc that will either vote for Israel or abstain, rather than vote against Jerusalem.

For example, Estonia was one of five EU countries, along with the US, that voted against a UNESCO Executive Board resolution in October that condemned Israeli “aggression” on the Temple Mount. Four other EU countries – Spain, Italy, France and Austria – only abstained.

And in the resolution to raise the Palestinian flag at the UN that passed last September, Estonia was among the group of 18 EU countries that abstained, while France, Belgium, Ireland Spain and Sweden were among the 10 EU countries that voted for it.

Last week the EU\’s foreign ministers, making up the Foreign Affairs Council, issued conclusions on the Middle East that  were highly critical of Israel.  However, the intervention inside the EU of countries such as Greece and Cyprus, states with whom Israel has developed much closer ties over the last number of years, prevented the adoption of language that would have been even more critical.

In a related matter, Greece\’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, along with a number of his ministers, will arrive in Jerusalem on Wednesday for a government to government meeting, and then Tsipras and Netanyahu will travel to Cyprus the following day for a tripartite meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

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