Israel asks EU not to ‘meddle’ in its internal affairs

Middle East Monitor  /  March 15, 2023

Israel asked the European Union on Tuesday not to meddle in its internal affairs after Israeli policies against the Palestinians and the planned judicial overhaul were criticized by a senior EU official. The request was made by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in a telephone call with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell.

According to the Israeli foreign ministry, Cohen asked Borrell to stop funding Palestinians and denounced recent EU comments on Israeli policies against them. “There is no place for comparisons and creating a balance between Israeli terror victims and Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority,” Cohen was quoted as saying.

Borrell said in an article last week that Jewish settler violence was escalating against Palestinians and that Israeli military operations frequently caused the death of Palestinian civilians. “Violence on the part of Israeli [Jewish] settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods – almost always with impunity,” he pointed out. “Moreover, Israeli military operations frequently cause civilian Palestinian deaths, often without effective accountability; illegal settlements are expanding on occupied land; and the delicate status quo concerning Holy Sites is eroding.”

Since the start of 2023, more than 80 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli army and settler attacks. All of Israel’s settlements and Jewish settlers on Palestinian land are illegal under international law.

Borrell pushed back on Cohen’s claims of meddling in Israel’s internal affairs, stressing that Israel should welcome an EU parliamentary debate on policies in the West Bank and the judicial overhaul.

In the hour-long debate, the EU discussed the “deterioration of democracy in Israel and consequences on the occupied territories.” This was slammed by Cohen, who has recently criticized EU policies towards Israel as interference.

“This cannot be seen as interference,” insisted Borrell as he opened the debate in Strasbourg, “but a way of showing our interest and our appreciation for Israeli democracy.”