(Photo credit: David Fernandez/EPA)
Israeli officials have said they will not meet with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell if he visits Israel due to remarks he made last week, which Israel claims likened their military operations to ‘Palestinian terror.’
Although Borrell is not currently scheduled to visit Israel, an Israeli official told AP that if he did, he would have to arrive as a “private citizen” and not expect to be welcomed by the Israeli government.
“He’s not banned,” the Israeli official told AP about Borrell, adding that “it’s a good time [for him] to come.”
Last week, the European foreign policy chief wrote an article on the commentary site Project Syndicate that: “Violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods—almost always with impunity.”
“Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause Palestinian civilian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding,” Borrell added, referring to Al-Aqsa Mosque, a holy site regularly desecrated by Israeli settler incursions and dangerous state-sponsored excavation work.
Borrell’s words have been labeled by Israel as a comparison of the Israeli military to “terrorists,” referring to Palestinian resistance fighters.
In a phone call on 14 March, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Borrell that there “is no room for comparison or balancing between the victims of terrorism on the Israeli side and the Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority.”
This is despite the fact that most Palestinians consider the Palestinian Authority (PA) to be a tool used by Israel to suppress resistance.
The Israeli foreign minister also criticized Borrel for an EU parliament debate on Tuesday: “Deterioration of democracy in Israel and consequences on the occupied territories.”
“Deterioration of democracy” refers to Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan, which aims to significantly limit the powers of the Israeli supreme court and give the Israeli government authority over selecting judges.
Borrell’s criticism of Israeli military and settler violence comes in the aftermath of the violent settler rampage on Huwara, in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, which killed one Palestinian, injured over 300, and left dozens of homes and vehicles wholly torched.
It also comes as violent Israeli raids on the West Bank are increasing in frequency and more often resulting in the deaths of civilians.
The raids are Israel’s attempt at quashing the growing resistance in the West Bank. Israel launched an undercover raid in downtown Jenin two days ago undercover raid, killing three members of three different resistance factions.
The raid resulted in the death of a 16-year-old Palestinian and injured 20 others.