Netanyahu accuses EU of double standard, says ties need to be ′reset′ | News | DW | 14.01.2016
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Netanyahu accuses EU of double standard, says ties need to be 'reset'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said relations with the EU are broken and need to be "reset." He reserved his harshest criticism for Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country's relations with the European Union needed to be reset. In particular, he heaped scorn on Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom saying her calls for an independent probe into the killing of Palestinians were "absurd" and "stupid."

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom speaks during an interview. Außenministerin

Foreign Minister Wallstrom was the focal point of Netanyahu's ire

Netanyahu said Wallstrom was applying a double standard to Israel in calling for a review into Israel's "extrajudicial killings" in clashes with Palestinians. "It's outrageous, it's immoral and it's stupid," he said.

Since the beginning of October there have been near daily attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers. The attacks, often with knives, have led to about 150 Palestinian deaths. Israel has said more than 90 of them were actual assailants, and the rest died in clashes with security forces.

The Palestinian attacks resulted in the deaths of 24 Israelis and one American.

Netanyahu said the double standard applied to Israel is a broader problem emanating from the European Union. He said no one would ask for an investigation of French or American forces who killed would-be stabbers.

"There is a natural tendency in the EU establishment to single out Israel and treat it in ways that other countries are not being dealt with, and especially other democracies," Netanyahu told international journalists.

He said ties to the EU needed to be "reset" - an acknowledgment that relations were strained, though he did not propose new steps to improve them.

Israel has also been outraged by a recent EU decision to require labeling of exports from Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The idea being that European consumers opposed to Israel's settlement policy could choose not to buy products produced in the settlements.

In November, Israel suspended contact with EU bodies involved in peace efforts with Palestinians.

But its relations with Sweden are especially strained, especially since the Scandinavian country recognized Palestinian statehood last year.

Human rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force in response to the surge in attacks, which has raised fears of a wider confrontation, a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided.

On Thursday, Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian who tried to stab one of them near the West Bank city of Hebron and, in a separate incident near the town of Nablus, security forces killed a man after he slashed and wounded an army officer, the army said.

bik/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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