On hot mic, Is­raeli PM raps crazy EU, ad­mits Syria strikes

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu was caught yes­ter­day by a live mi­cro­phone rail­ing against the Euro­pean Union’s “crazy” in­sis­tence on re­solv­ing the Is­raeliPales­tinian con­flict as a pre­con­di­tion for closer ties with the 28-state bloc, and trum­pet­ing Is­rael as es­sen­tial to its pros­per­ity and sur­vival. Ne­tanyahu was meet­ing with lead­ers of Poland, Hun­gary, the Czech Repub­lic and Slo­vakia at a re­gional sum­mit, where a con­ver­sa­tion with his Czech and Hun­gar­ian coun­ter­parts dis­cussing Iran, Syria, the Is­lamic State, and EU-Is­rael re­la­tions was ac­ci­den­tally broad­cast to jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the con­fer­ence.

Ne­tanyahu also made a rare pub­lic ad­mis­sion that Is­rael has struck Ira­nian arms con­voys in Syria bound for Hezbol­lah “dozens and dozens of times.” The Is­raeli premier was over­heard blast­ing the Euro­pean Union’s ap­proach to Is­rael, say­ing “it’s crazy. I think it’s ac­tu­ally crazy” that the EU main­tains that re­solv­ing the Is­raeliPales­tinian con­flict must come be­fore closer trade ties. “There is no logic here. Europe is un­der­min­ing its se­cu­rity by un­der­min­ing Is­rael. Europe is un­der­min­ing its progress by un­der­min­ing the con­nec­tion with Is­raeli in­no­va­tion be­cause of a crazy at­tempt to cre­ate con­di­tions (for peace with the Pales­tini­ans),” said Ne­tanyahu.

Euro­pean ties with Is­rael would de­ter­mine whether the 28-mem­ber union would “live and thrive or shrivel and dis­ap­pear,” he added. The EU doesn’t rec­og­nize Is­raeli sovereignty over ter­ri­to­ries it cap­tured in the 1967 Mideast war, in­clud­ing the West Bank and east Jerusalem, where the Pales­tini­ans hope to es­tab­lish a state. It has been a vo­cal critic of Is­rael’s set­tle­ment con­struc­tion and has adopted mea­sures man­dat­ing the la­bel­ing of goods pro­duced in West Bank set­tle­ments.

“The Euro­pean Union is the only as­so­ci­a­tion of coun­tries in the world that con­di­tions the re­la­tions with Is­rael - that pro­duces tech­nol­ogy in ev­ery area - on po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions. The only ones. No­body does it,” Ne­tanyahu said, cit­ing Rus­sia, China and In­dia’s will­ing­ness to do busi­ness with Is­rael de­spite pol­i­tics. Ne­tanyahu has pushed for closer trade ties with In­dia and China in re­cent years. Ear­lier this month, In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi paid a state visit to Is­rael, dur­ing which the two coun­tries signed a num­ber of trade agree­ments ce­ment­ing in­creas­ingly warm re­la­tions.—AP

BU­DAPEST: Hun­gar­ian Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban, right, lis­tens to Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu dur­ing a press con­fer­ence held in the Pesti Vi­gado build­ing in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary. —AP

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