Israeli Official Tells EU Envoys She is 'Pissed Off' About Settler Violence Complaints

Published January 8th, 2022 - 09:34 GMT
Masked Israeli settlers attack Palestinian olive farmers
Masked Israeli settlers attack Palestinian olive farmers from the village of Hawara on fields near the settlement of Yitzhar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on October 7, 2020 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]

ALBAWABA - Jewish settler violence against Palestinians on the occupied West Bank is becoming endemic. Btselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), is constantly talking about the issue so are European MPs.

It is now splashed all over the social media as well as print and news websites. Recently a group of European from 16 EU countries visited the Palestinian occupied territories and watched first hand developments on the ground. And it was reported by different print media as expected.

First report came from the Anadolu website: It starts by saying an Israeli-European dispute broke out after European diplomats lodged a joint formal protest over “settler violence” against Palestinians in the West Bank. Quoting an Israeli news website it points out Walla reported "diplomats and ambassadors from 16 European countries arrived at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in [West] Jerusalem two weeks ago to hold a routine meeting with the head of the European Department at the Foreign Ministry, Aliza Bin Noun, regarding the situation in the West Bank."

The Turkish news website states the portal quoted three European and Israeli diplomats, without mentioning their names, as saying the meeting was tense because representatives of the European countries, led by the UK, attended the meeting to lodge an official protest over "settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank."

Bin Noun responded very "sharply and said that the European allegations were insulting," and an Israeli official said she "criticized the European diplomats, saying: After everything the new government in Israel has done for the Palestinians, do you come to complain?"

Some European diplomats, who attended the meeting, were quoted as saying they were interested in having a professional and non-emotional dialogue on the issues that concern them, but Bin Noun refused to engage in a substantive discussion Anadolu reported.

"European diplomats said that the atmosphere at the meeting was very difficult and that it got out of control very quickly."

The Jerusalem Post also was more forthright. Its starts by saying a senior Israel diplomat rebuked European ambassadors for protesting Israeli policies in the West Bank and violence by settlers. It adds the European ambassadors were led by the UK Charge d’Affaires Mark Power and came to the Israel Foreign Ministry and met with Deputy Director-General Aliza Bin Noun for a démarche, a diplomatic protest, against Israel.

The Israeli daily said the ambassadors also protested house demolitions and evictions from Palestinian homes, as well as the Government of Israel’s decision to declare six Palestinian civil society NGOs as terrorist organizations. That designation came in light of the NGOs’ ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the EU designates a terrorist group.

A Israeli diplomatic source told the newspaper that the European ambassadors read 30 articles of complaint against Israel, including violence by settlers, which has been a hot political topic in Israel recently.

Bin Noun told the ambassadors that their litany of complaints “pisses me off,” the Israeli source said as quoted by the Jerusalem Post. She said that the current government is making gestures towards the Palestinian Authority – referring to increased work permits for Palestinians and other forms of cooperation – so the complaints are out of place. The démarche was “not connected to reality on the ground nor to the relations between the countries and the usual conversation between them,” the Israeli source said. “If 16 representatives show up with complaints, it’s like an attack.”

The daily went on to say in recent weeks, violence by settlers against Palestinians has been a part of the Israeli political and diplomatic conversation. Arguments in the coalition on the matter were first sparked last month when the Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said he had discussed it with US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, and a senior diplomatic source lamented that Washington asks about settler violence “obsessively.” This week, Israeli Deputy Minister Yair Golan called violent settlers “subhuman,” sparking an uproar, with many accusing him of antisemitism and of using the Nazi term untermenschen.

Meanwhile, the Palestine Chronicle (PC) said:  The British-led delegation, according to Walla, presented an official letter to express its concerns to Aliza Bin Noun, director of the European Affairs Department at the Israeli Foreign Ministry but  Bin Noun refused to address the points raised by the European delegation and Walla reported her as shouting back: “You are pissing me off”.

According to The Times of Israel, “The European diplomats said the atmosphere was bad and quickly got out of control quickly (sic), with the meeting breaking down and ending in a ‘big crisis’”, as reported by the PC.

The United Nations and the European Union have repeatedly expressed their concerns about the rise in settler violence in the occupied West Bank.  “Settler violence has always been an extremely disturbing feature of the Israeli occupation,” the UN experts said in a statement published in November last year. “In 2021, we are witnessing the highest recorded levels of violence in recent years and more severe incidents,” The Palestine Chronicle reports.

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