Foreign Ministry snubs EU envoy over Gaza conflict stance
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Foreign Ministry snubs EU envoy over Gaza conflict stance

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Foreign Ministry representatives refused to meet with European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Sven Koopmans during his recent visit to the region, a diplomatic source confirmed on Wednesday.

Israel snubbed Koopmans because of “dissatisfaction” with EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell’s statements during Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Among the statements Israel found to be problematic were Borrell’s call for “the immediate cessation of all violence and the implementation of a ceasefire,” when Gazan terrorists’ rockets were still raining on Israel; claims that Israel used disproportionate force; and that there was an “unacceptable number of civilian casualties.”

In addition, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi disputed Borrell’s claim that Hungary was the only one out of 27 EU member states to oppose a statement reflecting the EU commissioner’s views.

A European official responded that Borrell’s statements, as well as those by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, all reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself and condemned Hamas targeting civilians.

In addition, the official said that only one foreign minister – Péter Szijjártó of Hungary – opposed Borrell’s call for an immediate ceasefire.

Koopmans updated Ambassador to EU Institutions Aharon Leshno-Yaar before his visit, and after consulting with Jerusalem, the ambassador recommended that Koopmans come at a later date, Walla reported.

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The special envoy arrived in Israel late last month, disregarding the Foreign Ministry’s position. Koopmans’ Twitter feed shows that he met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah last week.

Koopmans also met with residents of Ashkelon, where he found “inspiring young people who lived through great fear, yet have high hopes for the future and genuine interest in meeting their Gaza neighbors. We owe all of them lasting peace and security.”

He also met with young people in Gaza, and wrote a similar tweet about them.

“During my first official visit I spoke with many victims and saw much current and expected suffering. But I also gained the belief that sustainable peace is possible. Leaders must consider the legitimate interests of all peoples and international envoys should dare to help,” Koopmans wrote this week.

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