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Borrell Slams Netanyahu in Latest Sign of Tensions Between Europe, Israeli PM

© AP Photo / Jean-Francois BadiasEuropean Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell delivers his speech during a debate on Russia's war against Ukraine, at the European Parliament, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022 in Strasbourg, eastern France.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell delivers his speech during a debate on Russia's war against Ukraine, at the European Parliament, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022 in Strasbourg, eastern France.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.05.2024
The comment comes after Spain, Ireland and Norway granted diplomatic recognition of the State of Palestine this week, but Israel still enjoys significant support within the EU.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday in the latest sign of strained relations between Europe and the controversial Israeli leader.
The remark came in response to comments by Netanyahu last week accusing International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan of prejudice against Jewish people.
“Their position about antisemitism against the prosecutor of the ICC is completely not acceptable,” said Borrell. The Spanish politician said the accusation was an attempt to intimidate the human rights lawyer, adding that claims of antisemitism are made every time anyone “does something that Netanyahu doesn't like.”
The Israeli Prime Minister denounced the ICC’s announcement last Monday that it would seek arrest warrants against him and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three leaders of Hamas, for alleged crimes against humanity.
Exterior view of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, April 30, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.05.2024
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Netanyahu rejected any implied comparison between the Palestinian group and Israel, which he describes as a “democratic” state. The Israeli organization B’Tselem and other international human rights groups have characterized Israel as an “apartheid” regime where 5.5 million Palestinians in occupied territories “have no representation in the political institutions that dictate their lives.”
“As the prime minister of Israel, I reject with disgust the Hague prosecutor's comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas,” said Netanyahu in a video message released last week. “This is a complete distortion of reality. This is exactly what the new antisemitism looks like. It has moved from the campuses in the West to the court in The Hague.”
The Israeli prime minister slammed pro-Palestine protests at US colleges last month, saying they were “reminiscent of what happened in German universities in the 1930s” and calling for them to be disbanded.
Borrell’s comment is a sign of growing tensions between Netanyahu and some EU leaders as Israel’s seven-month-long military campaign in the Gaza Strip rages on. Two Europe-based international courts have dealt setbacks to the Israeli government recently, with the International Court of Justice ordering the country to end its operation in Rafah shortly after the ICC arrest warrant was issued last week.
Backdropped by smoke rising to the sky after an explosion in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli tank stands near the Israel-Gaza border as seen from southern Israel, Monday, May 13, 2024 - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.05.2024
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The EU foreign policy chief also announced that a meeting of the EU-Israel Council would be held soon to discuss the human rights situation in Gaza and “the impact of the ICJ ruling on the association agreement,” according to Reuters. The comment suggests that trade between Israel and the bloc of 27 European countries may be placed in jeopardy by recent legal developments.
The Irish foreign minister claimed Monday that “significant discussion on sanctions” against Israel is taking place among EU member states. Such measures would represent a significant economic blow against the country after Turkiye halted trade with Israel earlier this month over Tel Aviv’s conduct in Gaza, where nearly 36,000 Palestinians have been killed according to the territory’s health ministry.
Still, European support has remained crucial in Israel’s ongoing operation in the Palestinian enclave, with Germany serving as the country’s most important military ally after the United States. Last month the ICJ refused to issue an emergency injunction against Germany’s provision of arms to Israel in a case brought against the European country by Nicaragua.
The Palestinian flag flies in the wind after a Rose Garden ceremony at the United Nations headquarters - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.05.2024
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