Israel this week expressed deep disappointment after the European Union condemned the building of new homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") as the main obstacle to peace.
In an official response to the EU statement, Israel's Foreign Ministry noted that "settlement activity" had never before hindered the peace process, and that the true obstacle to peace is the Arabs' ongoing refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist.
A key component of the peace process started in the early 1990s was full recognition of Israel and its right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East. Without such recognition, Israel argues that the conflict will carry on indefinitely, regardless of any signed pieces of paper, as all future generations of Palestinian Arabs will continue to view Israel as an enemy and usurper.
In the past two weeks, both Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have publicly rejected the idea of recognizing that the Jews have a right to a state in this region. The European Union failed to similarly see either of those speeches as an obstacle to peace.
"This one-sided position taken by the EU rewards rejectionism and does not contribute to promoting a permanent peace agreement," read the Foreign Ministry response.
At a Hannukah candle-lighting ceremony on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted that Europe remains silent on these Palestinian violations because many of it leaders actually agree with the long-term goals of Hamas. "As far as they're concerned, the destruction of Israel is a matter of course," said Lieberman.
A day later, Lieberman told a gathering of diplomats hosted by The Jerusalem Post that "the international community's attitude regarding Israel's security reminds me of its attitude regarding Czechoslovakia's security in 1938," referring to the Western powers' abandonment of Czechoslovakia in the face of a mounting Nazi threat.
"We will not be Czechoslovakia," insisted Lieberman.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority was all too pleased with Europe's tone, and urged the union to go a step further in its condemnation of Israel.
"We call on the EU to hold Israel accountable for its illegal occupation of Palestine, reconsider its political and trade relations with Israel and agreements, including the EU-Israel Association agreement, implement a ban on Israeli settler products and extremist settlers, and rescue the chances for peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital," said PA representative Hanan Ashrawi.
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