Zaorálek says becoming harder to back Israel; Palestinians repeatedly ‘run away’ from peace: Netanyahu
The Czech Republic’s foreign minister warned Monday that it will become increasingly difficult for his country to maintain its pro-Israel position if Israel fails to take viable steps toward establishing a Palestinian state.
Lubomír Zaorálek said that Israel risks suffering international isolation if it doesn’t change its policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“As a close friend of yours, it is important for the Czech Republic to say that if the situation does not change it will be hard to maintain our position,” Zaorálek said in an interview with the Walla news site during a trip to Israel.
“We want to avoid initiatives against Israel, but it is getting more difficult with the current government and with the opposition to the two-state solution,” he said. “What is the alternative, to deteriorate towards apartheid?”
When speaking to a Czech news agency, Zaorálek criticized settlement building and said that the policy is threating hopes of achieving a lasting peace. “If the building of settlements continues on the territories that fall under Palestinian autonomy, and on which no decision has been made that they should belong to Israel … it is actually a direct torpedoing of this process, [namely] the formation of two independent states,” Zaorálek said.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with Zaora’lek, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a Palestinian-led campaign to snub Israeli goods sought the “elimination” of the Jewish state, following a boycott row with French telecoms giant Orange.
“I think it’s important that the international community stop giving the Palestinians a free pass,” Netanyahu said.
“They’re engaging in BDS, which calls for the elimination of Israel,” said Netanyahu of the grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
BDS has been the central theme for Israeli politicians and media since last week when the chief executive of Orange said his firm was planning to withdraw its brand from Israel.
Stephane Richard’s comments came just four weeks after the publication of a report accusing Orange of indirectly supporting settlement activity through its relationship with Partner Communications.
Israel reacted furiously, accusing Orange of succumbing to BDS pressure.
Netanyahu cited what he called “one of the leaders” of BDS as stating that its real aim was “to bring down the State of Israel.”
The international community regards all Israeli construction on Palestinian land seized during the 1967 Six-Day War as illegal.
“Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu added.
“It’s a rejectionist extremist Palestinian position in which there is no room for Israel in any borders.”
The premier spoke with Zaoralek of the need to return to “direct negotiations without preconditions” with Palestinian officials, professing his commitment to “a solution of two states for two peoples.”
According to Netanyahu, the Palestinians “refuse to negotiate and then try to get boycotts on Israel for there not being negotiations, which they refuse to enter. Catch 22.”