Treat Israel like moderate Arab states do, PM tells EU’s Mogherini

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 21, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday told the European Union’s foreign policy chief the 28-nation bloc should adopt the policies of the moderate Arab states regarding Israel.

At a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Israeli prime minister also said better ties between Jerusalem and moderate Arab states would improve Israel’s relations with the Palestinians, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office. He suggested European countries treat the Jewish state like the moderate Arab countries do, but did not elaborate.

Jordan and Egypt are the only Arab nations with formal diplomatic relations with Israel. However, Israeli officials have said in recent years that common interests with Sunni Arab countries also opposed to Iran’s nuclear ambitions could open the door to forging new ties.

Netanyahu also told Federica Mogherini that the European Union has “double standards” when it comes to Israel. The comment came several days after the EU reiterated in a resolution that it would continue to differentiate between Israel proper and the settlements.

Mogherini, in response, maintained the European Union was not boycotting Israel.

During a series of meetings in Switzerland on Thursday, including with US Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State John Kerry, Netanyahu also took a jab at Sweden, a week after its foreign minister urged a thorough probe into what she contended were “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinian attackers.

“There are probably more Swedes in ISIS than Israeli Arabs,” Netanyahu said.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum earlier Thursday, the prime minister said defeating the Islamic State was “doable” and maintained ties between the US and Israel were strong.

“I think it’s a doable thing. I think ISIS [an acronym for IS] can be defeated. ISIS is an idea plus territory plus oil. It is possible to knock out the oil, which takes away half their revenues. It is possible to get at the nerve centers of their ideas, which are concentrated basically in two places: It’s in Raqqa [in Syria] and it’s in Mosul [in Iraq]; it doesn’t require taking care of all of Syria and Iraq. And we have these discussions with the United States and with others about this task.”

Netanyahu acknowledged years of acrimony with the Obama administration over the recently implemented Iran nuclear deal and the peace talks with the Palestinians.

“We can have our disagreements. We do. They always publicize it as very dramatic. But,” he added, “the alliance between the United States and Israel is so strong and so powerful that the only thing that’s collapsed is the talk of the imminent American-Israeli collapse. It’s very clear that’s not going to happen, and that this partnership is rock-solid, and will remain so.”

Before his interview, Netanyahu sat down both with Kerry and Biden.

The White House later said in a statement that during the meeting, Biden “reaffirmed the unshakable US commitment to Israel’s security, and the two leaders discussed ways to further deepen security cooperation to confront common regional threats.”

According to the statement, Biden and Netanyahu “also discussed regional developments, including Syria, the campaign against ISIL [an acronym for IS], the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, steps to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities, and opportunities for Israel to expand energy partnerships with countries in the eastern Mediterranean to enhance regional prosperity and cooperation.”

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