(JTA) – The chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Israel warned European Union (EU) governments not to isolate Israel following the re-election of its rightist ruling party.
Fulvio Martusciello’s statement on Thursday came two days after Israel’s March 17 general elections, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, Likud, emerged as the country’s largest party.
“What is important at this stage is not to isolate Israel,” Martusciello, a member of the centre-right European People’s Party, wrote. “It is on the isolation of Israel that the religious fanaticism grows.”
Last month, the news site news.walla.co.il quoted Israeli officials as saying that Brussels was holding off until after the elections on plans to punish Israel for not moving forward in talks with Palestinians, though an EU official denied this in an interview with JTA.
Set up in 1979, the delegation headed by Martusciello is among the European Parliament’s oldest and is responsible for maintaining and developing parliamentarian ties between the Knesset in Jerusalem and its counterpart within the European Union.
Noting that “the Knesset is has changed considerably after these elections,” Martusciello wrote: “Now it is Europe’s turn to contribute.” He also wrote: “We do have to acknowledge Netanyahu’s comeback, he was right when he decided to have early elections.”
Netanyahu has faced criticism both in the European Union and in the United States for declaring during his campaign that a Palestinian state would not be established on his watch, though he said on Thursday that he supports the two-state solution in principle, explaining his assertion was a reference to what he regards as Palestinian intransigence that he said was preventing forward movement toward a Palestinian state.