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EU foreign-policy chief barred from official visits to Israel

Josep Borrell equated Palestinian terror attacks with counterterror operations undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels, Oct. 7, 2019. Credit: European Parliament via Wikimedia Commons.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell in Brussels, Oct. 7, 2019. Credit: European Parliament via Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli officials will not meet with Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, should he visit the Jewish state, following comments he made equating Palestinian terrorist attacks with operations undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces.

The Associated Press cited an Israeli official as saying on Wednesday that while a visit by Borrell has not been requested, he would have to arrive as a private citizen with no expectations of assistance from the government.

“He’s not banned,” the official said. “We don’t think it’s a good time to come.”

Borrell wrote in an article last week on the commentary site Project Syndicate that “violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods—almost always with impunity.

“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,” he wrote.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen criticized the remarks during a phone conversation with Borrell on Tuesday.

“There is no room for comparison or balancing between the victims of terrorism on the Israeli side and the Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority,” said Cohen.

Cohen also criticized Borrell for a debate held on Tuesday at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, titled “Deterioration of democracy in Israel and consequences on the occupied territories,” which featured harsh criticism of the Jewish state from some MEPs who took to the podium.

The cold shoulder to Borrell comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is undertaking a series of diplomatic visits to European Union member states. Last month he visited France and this month he’s taking trips to Italy and Germany before flying to Britain later in March.

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