The Government of Israel has rejected several requests from the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs (EU), Josep Borrell, to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories, as published yesterday by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The newspaper claims that the Israeli Foreign Ministry considers that "there is no reason to give him a reward for his conduct" and that this decision is due to comments in which the head of European diplomacy compared the activities of the Israeli army with those of the Palestinian organization Hamas, something he denies.
According to Haaretz, Borrell has expressed interest in visiting Israel and Palestine in recent times, but Israel has indicated that it will not cooperate. The ministry's opposition to his visit would not prevent Borrell's arrival in Israel, but it would imply that he would arrive in the country as a tourist and that he would not be able to hold business meetings with Israeli representatives, the statement says.
The tension between the Israeli Government and Brussels has been increasing due to what Israel considers an "unbalanced" position regarding the conflict with the Palestinians. On Tuesday Borrell affirmed that the European Parliament is "free" to debate everything it considers "important" in a debate in the Eurochamber entitled "Deterioration of democracy in Israel and the consequences in the occupied territories".
Borrell informed MEPs that he maintains contact with both the Palestinian and Israeli foreign ministers and that he had spoken to the latter, Eli Cohen, that same morning. In the conversation, the minister considered the EU's positions towards Israel to be unbalanced and called for measures to be taken that express the Europeans' understanding of "the complex security situation in which Israel is".
"I was worried and wondered why the European Parliament interferes in the internal affairs of Israel, once again, blaming me", he commented, and also reminded that the EU's Foreign Policy is in the hands of the states members Borrell made it clear that he tried to explain to Cohen, "in a very friendly way," that it is "normal for parliamentarians to be concerned about the spiraling spiral of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories," and that there is the " need for all parties to reduce tension".
Last week, Borrell released a statement on behalf of the Twenty-seven in which he called on the leaders of Israel and Palestine to lower the tension in the face of increased violence. "The EU and its member states are deeply concerned about the increase in violence and extremism in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, which is causing appalling numbers of Israeli and Palestinian victims, including children," pointed out the head of community diplomacy.
The Israeli Government's protest comes as the conflict experiences a new peak of violence, with more than 80 Palestinian deaths in the occupied West Bank since the beginning of the year in violent incidents with Israel - the deadliest beginning of the year in the area since 2000–, while 14 people have died on the Israeli side, victims of Palestinian attacks, which have also increased.
The Israeli criticisms have also occurred after statements by European leaders in which they expressed their concern about the controversial judicial reform promoted by the Government headed by the right-wing Benjamin Netanyahu, which aims to grant more power to the Executive to the detriment of the judicial power