If the Europeans want to prevent Israel from responding further to the recent Palestinian victory at the UN, they should “encourage a positive Palestinian dynamic” and keep the PA from “further provocative actions,” diplomatic officials said on Tuesday.
This will be among the messages Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will take to Berlin on Wednesday, the officials said. He is scheduled to dine with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and hear sharp criticism of plans to build 3,000 housing units in the settlement blocs and east Jerusalem, as well as push forward the planning of E1 in Ma’aleh Adumin.
Netanyahu gave an indication of what he will say in Europe, telling a gathering of the National Public Diplomacy Forum that met on Tuesday to summarize Operation Pillar of Defense, that the Gaza “war” was over Israel’s existence.
“We left territories we took during the Six Day War, such as Gaza, and they fire rockets on us,” he said. “The root of the conflict is not the settlements, not the territories; it is the very existence of Israel and their desire to wipe us off the map.”
The prime minister’s message, according to the officials, will be that if the Palestinians continue with provocative steps, Israel reserves the right to respond.
He will say that it is important for the Europeans to use their influence with the Palestinians to encourage a positive dynamic, not a negative one.
This message is one that Israeli officials have been telling their European interlocutors since the tidal wave of criticism over the recent settlement plans began: The ball is in the EU’s court, and they should get the Palestinians to avoid further unilateral steps.
John Gatt Rutter, the EU representative in the West Bank and Gaza, said at a briefing with journalists that the Palestinians made clear before the vote at the UN General Assembly last Thursday that afterward they would be willing to negotiate with Israel without preconditions.
He also said there were “positive signals” from the PA regarding the issue of hauling Israel before the International Criminal Court, something that Israeli officials have indicated would elicit an even tougher Israeli response than the one already taken.
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