Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu

”Stop attacking Israel. Support it…It’s absolutely crazy,” Netanyahu said of the EU’s policies towards Israel. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was caught Wednesday on a live microphone railing against the European Union’s (EU) “crazy” insistence on pressuring Israel in regards to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians as a precondition for closer ties.

Netanyahu was meeting with leaders of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia at a regional summit. He was discussing a broad array of issues when some of his comments were accidentally broadcast to journalists in another room.

The Israeli premier was overheard blasting the EU’s approach to Israel, saying, “it’s crazy. I think it’s actually crazy” that the 28-nation bloc maintains that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian 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.

“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,” he stressed, citing Russia, China and India’s willingness to do business with Israel regardless of politics.

”Stop attacking Israel. Support it. Europe is disengaging itself from the world’s biggest innovation hub [in Israel]. There’s no sense [to that]. Europe is undermining its own security by undermining Israel,” he declared. “It’s absolutely crazy.”

Netanyahu urged the EU to change its policies, for its own benefit. “I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive or if it wants to shrivel and disappear,” he said.

EU-Israel relations have been tense for years, with Jerusalem feeling that Brussels is targeting its policies far too much while being too soft on the Palestinians. While the EU is the main trading partner for Israel, frictions have persisted. Relations took a dive in November 2015 after the EU decided to label products made in Judea and Samaria.

The EU has also been a vocal critic of Israel’s construction in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria.

EU Should Value Israel

During statements to the media after their meeting, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shared Netanyahu’s view on the EU’s relations with Israel, calling for a more rational approach with “significantly better ties” and less criticism of Israel.

“The EU should value the efforts made by the state of Israel for stability in the region,” Orban said. “This is of interest not only for Israel but for Europe, too, as it protects us from more and more migrant invasions.”

“The EU’s relations with Israel are not rational enough and need to be repaired,” Orban added. “Instead of criticizing Israel, we should open the door to cooperation with Israel.”

Orban announced that the four Central European countries in the so-called Visegrad Group had accepted Netanyahu’s invitation to hold an upcoming meeting in Israel.

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By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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