Israel′s Benjamin Netanyahu caught on microphone slamming EU in Budapest | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 19.07.2017
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Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu caught on microphone slamming EU in Budapest

Netanyahu has been caught by journalists imploring central European leaders to campaign for Israel in the EU. Conference organizers quickly cut his microphone when they realized his closed-door comments were broadcast.

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Israel's Netanyahu caught on microphone slamming EU

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was inadvertently picked up by a live microphone on Wednesday calling the European Union "crazy" and admitting to missile strikes in Syria.

Netanyahu was at a regional summit in Hungary at a closed-door session with the premiers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia when his conversation was transmitted to reporters' headphones.

Read more: Israeli's fume over Netanyahu's retraction of anti-Soros campaign

"It's crazy. I think it's actually crazy (that the EU maintains that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must come before closer trade ties)," Netanyahu was quoted as saying by the news agency AP.

"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.

Netanyahu urged the Central European leaders to encourage the EU to ease conditions for advancing bilateral ties.

"I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive or if it wants to shrivel and disappear," he was quoted as saying by Times of Israel.

"I am not very politically correct. I know that's a shock to some of you. It's a joke. But the truth is the truth - both about Europe's security and Europe's economic future. Both of these concerns mandate a different policy towards Israel," the Times of Israel quoted.

Read more: Moscow summons Israeli diplomat over Syria airstrike

We can prevent mass migration

"If I can suggest that what comes out of this meeting is your ability, perhaps, to communicate to your colleagues in other parts of Europe: Help, Europe... Don't undermine the one Western country that defends European values and European interests and prevents another mass migration to Europe," he reportedly told Hungary's Viktor Orban, the Czech Republic's Bohuslav Sobotka, Poland's Beata Szydlo and Slovakia's Robert Fico.

Read more: Orban admits Nazi collaboration was a mistake

Netanyahu told the leaders that the EU was alone in its stipulations for working with Israel.

"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," Netanyahu was quoted as saying by AP, citing Russia, China and India's willingness to do business with Israel despite politics.

Admits Syrian strikes

Netanyahu also made a rare public admission that Israel has struck Iranian arms convoys in Syria bound for Hezbollah "dozens and dozens of times." He also made positive comments about the change in US administration from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.

The EU does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over territories it captured in the 1967 Mideast war, including the West Bank and east Jerusalem. It has criticized Israel's settlement construction and requires the labeling of goods produced in West Bank settlements.

After a few minutes it became clear that journalists could hear the comments and the sound was cut.

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aw/rt (AP, dpa)

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