Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appealed to EU foreign policy chief Christine Ashton to withhold a planned joint statement by the 27 foreign ministers of the EU member states, during their meeting Monday. The statement would condemn Israel for construction in West Bank settlements and lay out principles for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
...Various drafts of the statement have reached Jerusalem in recent days. The drafted by France, Britain and other countries, is be long and detailed, similar to the one made in May 2012. It denounces Israel for settlement construction and calls for labeling in Europe products that come from West Bank settlements. It likewise criticizes the limitations Israel imposes on Palestinians living in the West Bank's Area C, which is under full Israeli control, as designated in the Oslo Accords. The announcement also refers to European proposals for resolving the conflict, including the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu told Ashton at a meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem that the timing of this announcement, only two days before the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for another round of Israeli-Palestinian talks, will hinder American efforts to restart negotiations.
“The contents of the announcement are unworthy and the timing is unhelpful and even harmful,” Netanyahu told Ashton. “The announcement will only encourage the Palestinians to refrain from returning to the negotiating table. With this announcement, the Palestinians will think it worth their while to wait until Kerry’s efforts fail, since the Europeans will support them in any case, laying the responsibility for failure on Israel’s shoulders.”
Well, so much for being surprised and unprepared.