Sep 14, 2022 - World

Scoop: EU envoy says he's being snubbed by Israeli leaders

Sven Koopmans

Sven Koopmans on Dec. 3, 2021. Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sven Koopmans, the European Union special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, officially complained to the Israeli Foreign Ministry that he has not recently gotten high-level meetings in Israel, according to a summary of the meeting Axios obtained.

Why it matters: The EU envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is appointed by the 27 member states of the European Union and reports to representatives in Brussels.

  • Israeli and EU officials are preparing to meet next month for the Association Council, a high-level gathering that hasn't convened for more than a decade due to deep policy disagreements over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Lapid, who will attend the Oct. 6 gathering, wants to turn it into a summit with the leaders of all 27 member states of the EU — several weeks before the Israeli election. Previously, it was a foreign minister-level gathering.

Behind the scenes: Israeli officials told Axios that ahead of the EU envoy’s visit two weeks ago, Koopmans asked for meetings with Lapid, President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. All his requests were denied.

  • During his meeting with Aliza Bin Noun, the political director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Koopmans said he hasn't been allowed to meet with any high-level officials since his meeting with Lapid more than six months ago, according to the summary of the meeting.
  • “In every country in the region, I meet the foreign minister, but in Israel, I don’t even get a meeting with the director general of the Foreign Ministry," the EU envoy said, per the meeting summary.
  • Koopmans stressed that because he is not getting meetings, he won’t be able to report to the EU member states about positive engagement ahead of the Israel-EU Association Council gathering next month.

During the meeting, Bin Noun complained about Koopmans' tweets during the most recent fighting in Gaza.

  • The Israeli officials specifically brought up that Koopmans' tweets did not mention Israel's right to defend itself.
  • Koopmans, who referred to Gaza in the meeting as “a prison when from time to time bombs are falling,” stressed he stands by his tweets and said it is his job to speak up for the EU and help the civilian victims.

What they're saying: An Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that no linkage was made in the meeting between the EU envoy’s tweets and the meetings he gets in Israel.

  • The Foreign Ministry said Koopmans has met in the last year with the foreign minister, the minister of defense, the minister for regional cooperation, the director general of the foreign ministry, the head of the government coordination activities in the territories (COGAT), and senior ministry of defense officials.
  • The EU mission in Israel and Koopmans declined to comment.
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