Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a groundbreaking visit to Lithuania on Thursday, saying he hoped to deepen ties with eastern EU nations as Brussels blasted Israel’s illegitimate plans for fresh illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Dozens of pro-Palestine activists waved Palestinian flags and chanted that Netanyahu was “not welcome” while railing against Lithuania’s warm ties with Israel outside government buildings in the capital Vilnius, where he held talks with his Lithuanian counterpart Saulius Skvernelis.
— Noa Landau (@noa_landau) August 23, 2018
Netanyahu thanked Skvernelis for the
“Strong position you’ve taken in forums of the EU on behalf of truth, on behalf of Israel, on behalf of decency.”
“Israel is often mistreated by the EU in Brussels, there are many distortions that are leveled at us, and it is refreshing to see that you take a stand of clarity, of truth and of courage, and we discussed how that can be expanded.”
In the heart of Vilnius, Lithuania – his ancestors’ homeland, as he often points out – Benjamin Netanyahu formally thanked the country’s prime minister for helping him wage his all-out diplomatic war on the European Union in recent yearshttps://t.co/T6mz7wq5ac
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) August 23, 2018
Israel approved plans for more than 1,000 illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, prompting EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic to say that the bloc was “strongly opposed” to Israel’s “illegal” settlement policy, calling it “an obstacle to peace”.
The illegal settlements “would further jeopardize the prospect of a contiguous and viable future Palestinian state,” she said on Thursday.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 18, 2018
Netanyahu said he wanted “to achieve a balance in the European Union’s not always friendly relations with Israel” before boarding his plane for the first-ever visit by an Israeli premier to Lithuania.
He will meet the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in Vilnius on Friday during the visit, which is set to last until Sunday.
— Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) August 24, 2018
Lithuania has traditionally been one of Israel’s better friends in the European Union, a result in part of the Holocaust’s legacy and close alignment with the US.
Netanyahu has regularly sought sympathetic ears within the EU, particularly among countries that can serve as a counterweight to the critical treatment Israel often receives from western European nations over its policies in the Palestinian territories it occupies.
(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, PC, Social Media)