Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz attacked the European Union yesterday over the bloc's criticism of police treatment of Israeli-Arab protestors. "They can go to a thousand thousand hells," he told local radio station 103 FM, as reported by dpa. "This is the height of nerve and hypocrisy. The same European Union is now sucking up to Iran and will help the country in the face of U.S. sanctions," he added. The move came with relations between Tel Aviv and Washington at one of their highest points in history after the controversial opening of the U.S. Embassy in the disputed city of Jerusalem.
The Israeli authorities on Tuesday refused a request by the EU to investigate the alleged beating and arrest of an Arab-Israeli activist during a pro-Gaza demonstration in Haifa last weekend.
Describing his country as "the only democracy in the Middle East," Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Israel "does not need lessons in morality from a biased and obsessive body like the EU." According to Israel's Channel 7 television broadcaster, Erdan said, "This campaign of persecution brimming with hypocrisy against Israel and these attempts to tarnish its name are doomed to failure," as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA). "I propose to the EU not to interfere in the internal affairs of the State of Israel," he added.
Farah was arrested in Haifa last weekend along with 18 other demonstrators who had expressed solidarity with Gaza's plight. Farah was allegedly beaten by an Israeli police officer during his arrest, causing a fracture of the knee. On Saturday, dozens of Arab-Israelis were beaten; including Parliament members Jamal Zahalka and Hanin Zoubi after police dispersed a pro-Gaza rally in the northern port city of Haifa. Demonstrators had called on Israel to lift its decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip, end its decades-long occupation of the West Bank, and stop attacking unarmed protesters.
As tensions simmer between Israel and EU, a senior European official has warned Israel not to "disparage" Europe, adding that Donald Trump's legacy may be scrapped, according to Israel Television News Company's Hadashot TV news bulletin, The Times of Israel, an Israel-based online newspaper reported. The remarks came after Israel has summoned the ambassadors of Spain, Slovenia and Belgium over their votes at a U.N. body calling for an international probe of the deadly shootings of dozens of Palestinians on the Gaza border, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.
Israel has been at odds with the EU over the Israeli use of live fire targeting unarmed Palestinians as well as Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.