Friday, 17 January 2014

Israel calls in European ambassadors over EU settlement protest


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel called in European ambassadors in a tit-for-tat move Friday after four EU states lodged formal protests against the right-wing government's drive to expand illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the European Union of a "hypocritical" attitude toward the Middle East process, saying it should be more concerned by Palestinian militancy than Israeli housing construction.

The new spat with Europe follows a furious public row with key ally the United States after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon launched a bitter personal tirade against Secretary of State John Kerry for his "obsession" with brokering a framework peace deal with the Palestinians by April.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in an illegal settlement, ordered the ambassadors of Britain, France, Italy and Spain be called in to "stress to them that their perpetual one-sided stance against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians is unacceptable and creates the impression they are only seeking ways to blame Israel," his spokesman said. more

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