Written by Staff Writer, CNN
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted an apology from British Prime Minister Theresa May and a statement from the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, following their meeting in Paris this week
In a joint statement, the two leaders welcomed May’s decision to invite Netanyahu for a “private visit” in the country.
“During the meeting they discussed preparations for the upcoming G20 Summit in Argentina and a range of other issues,” the statement said.
“On the topic of the rights of international protection in Palestine, the Prime Minister expressed the hope that member states of the European Union will realize the urgent need to reverse what she described as a narrative of delegitimization. The Prime Minister reiterated that peace requires a just settlement of the decades old conflict,” the statement continued.
“The Prime Minister also welcomed recent steps taken by the European Union to prevent the freezing of international protection, which guarantees the right of asylum and the safety of Palestinian refugees, but regretted the lack of progress towards lifting the remaining restrictions. It was agreed that Israel and the EU would work together on taking further measures,” it added.
Netanyahu has led a bitter and escalating diplomatic fight with the European Union.
In December he took the unprecedented step of convening a meeting of the country’s top security and foreign affairs leaders to chart out a new direction for Israeli diplomacy and foreign policy. The new approach appeared to be to forge closer ties with some of the world’s most aggressive foes, including Russia and China.
The meeting, which featured an expected frank exchange between Netanyahu and Netanyahu’s Cabinet, seemingly signaled a hardening of Israel’s strategic alliance with Russia and Iran, two countries that the EU has shunned in recent years.
Israel also reached a historic peace accord with the Palestinian Authority in 1993, but it faced collapse after Yasser Arafat, the then-Palestinian president, declared unilateral statehood in late 2002.
May and Barnier also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The two leaders were forced to cancel their planned meeting last week due to the UK’s decision to partially defer approval of an upgrade to the UK’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
May had previously opposed the move, but the final decision was ultimately made by US President Donald Trump, who declared the city of Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital in December last year. The White House declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, but with no recognition that Israel had occupied East Jerusalem since 1967.
While Israel views East Jerusalem as its capital, the Palestinians want it as the capital of a future state.