Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Following his decision to take punitive measures against the EU for labeling products from Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu is refusing to meet with the Belgian foreign minister, who has now postponed his visit to Israel.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders will not be visiting Israel in the next few days, as originally planned. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to meet with representatives of EU countries who support the labeling of Israeli goods from Judea and Samaria in European stores.

On Sunday, Israel suspended contacts with European Union (EU) representatives on Mideast peace issues in protest against the 28-nation bloc’s decision to label Israeli exports from the Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights, which the EU considers “occupied” territory.

Israel’s Channel 10 reported Tuesday that Reynders postponed his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority-administered territories due to Netanyahu’s refusal to meet with him. Since the Israeli national election in March, Netanyahu is also serving as foreign minister.

Didier Reynders and Mogherini

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders (L) and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini. (AP)

Reynders was among the 16 EU signatories to a letter written in April calling on EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini to push forward with the product labeling. Israel recently announced that it would be taking punitive measures against those countries, which include – besides Belgium – the UK, France, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria and Finland.

“You can’t act against us and then expect that everything will continue as normal,” a senior Israeli official said.

“The EU decision is hypocritical and constitutes a double standard; it singles out Israel and not the 200 other conflicts around the world,” Netanyahu declared, following the EU announcement. “We are not prepared to accept the fact that Europe is labeling the side that is being attacked by terrorism. The labeling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories. Europe should be ashamed of itself. It took an immoral decision. Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world, it chose to single out Israel and Israel alone, while it’s fighting with its back against the wall against the wave of [Palestinian] terror.”

wine from judea and samaria

Wines from Judea and Samaria in a Jerusalem supermarket. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Reynders was scheduled to visit December 5-8. The Belgian Foreign Ministry notified the Israeli ambassador in Brussels, Simona Frankel, that the trip is postponed until further notice.

“Following the decision by the Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Netanyahu to suspend contacts with the European Union on the Middle East peace process, and considering the impact of this decision on the program of the visit of Didier Reynders, the latter confirmed this Tuesday morning to the Ambassador of Israel in Belgium his decision to postpone his visit to a later date,” the Belgian Foreign Ministry stated Tuesday evening.

By: United with Israel Staff

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