Israeli minister slams EU for urging police brutality probe

European official said to warn Israel: ‘Trump won’t be president forever’

‘Don’t disparage Europe,’ senior source reportedly says as tensions simmer between Jerusalem and EU

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make their way to the Oval Office for a meeting at the White House on  March 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make their way to the Oval Office for a meeting at the White House on March 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

As Jerusalem basked in tight-knit ties with Washington, a senior European official was said on Tuesday to have recently warned Israel not to “disparage” the EU, adding that US President Donald Trump’s legacy could be scaled back just as quickly as that of his predecessor Barack Obama.

“Trump won’t be president forever,” Hadashot TV on Tuesday quoted the unnamed official as saying during a recent visit to Israel.

“Just like nobody imagined that the Obama legacy would be erased so quickly, it can happen to the other side,” the source added.

“You shouldn’t disparage Europe. Look at the numbers: We are still your biggest trade partners. You don’t understand that we are under immense public pressure against Israel,” the senior official added.

Israel and the EU have lately been at loggerheads over the IDF’s handling of mass protests and riots on the Gaza border, as well as over Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal — as Prime Minister Benjamin had urged if it couldn’t be “fixed” — with Europe calling for the accord to remain in place. Israel has also hailed the US relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem last week, a move Europe has rejected.

On Monday and Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry reprimanded the Slovenian, Spanish, and Belgian ambassadors over their countries’ votes on Friday in favor of a UN Human Rights Council-led investigation into the IDF over the deaths on the Gaza border.  The bid was supported by 29 countries, with 14 abstaining and just two — the United States and Australia — voting against the probe.

Separately, Netanyahu has also fiercely condemned the European Union for its policies on Israel, including in hot mic comments last year that saw him lash European Union leaders for their “crazy” treatment of the Jewish state.

The European Union flag flies among others in front of St.Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow on March 29, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV)

Earlier Tuesday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also slammed the EU, saying the bloc shouldn’t “get involved in internal Israeli matters,” after it called for an investigation of alleged police brutality at a demonstration in Haifa.

Israeli minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan on May 2, 2018. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

“Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, doesn’t need any moral warning calls from a biased and obsessive entity like the European Union,” said Erdan. He also called the EU hypocritical and accused it of helping those who seek to boycott Israel.

Erdan was responding to a call by the European Union for an inquiry into an alleged assault of Jafar Farah, director of the NGO Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, which is part-funded by the EU.

Farah was arrested with 20 other people during a Gaza Strip solidarity rally on Friday in Haifa, which has since sparked accusations of police violence against protesters. He claimed a police officer kicked his leg, breaking his knee, while he was held in a detention facility on Friday night.

Arab-Israeli NGO worker Jafar Farah, who alleges a police officer broke his knee after he was arrested. (Screen capture: Twitter)

The officer denied he used any physical force against Farah.

The EU involvement came after Joint (Arab) List party MK Youssef Jabareen met Monday evening with EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret to draw his attention to the matter, Hadashot news reported.

In a statement, the EU said it was important “to conduct a swift investigation into circumstances surrounding events last week in Haifa which appeared to result in serious injury of Jafar Farah.”

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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