Photo Credit: Kobi Richter / TPS
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz blasted the European Union on Wednesday following critical remarks on Israel’s human rights record, saying the organization could “go to a thousand hells.”

Earlier this week, European Union spokesperson Maja Kocijancic called on Israel to investigate an incident in which Jafar Farah, Director of the NGO Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, claimed he had his leg broken by police during a demonstration over the deaths of dozens of rioters in events on the Gaza border on May 14.

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The EU statement also called on Israel not to deport Omar Shakir, the local director for Human Rights Watch. Israel has revoked the U.S. citizen’s entry permit and ordered him to leave the country for his alleged support of boycotts against Israel.

“The European Union expects the Israeli authorities to reverse their decision, as otherwise Israel would join a very short list of countries which have barred entry to, or expelled, Human Rights Watch staff,” Kocijancic said.

“In addition, it will also be important, as supported by the Israeli government, to conduct a swift investigation into circumstances surrounding events last week in Haifa which appeared to result in serious injury of Jafar Farah,” the statement added.

Steinitz accused the EU of “chutzpah and hypocrisy” saying that the same organization “sucked up to Iran” and would help Tehran in the face of newly imposed American sanctions.

“Iran executes and tortures homosexuals, harms women’s rights, supports terrorism and the regime of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad who uses chemical weapons against his own people, and they [the EU] pick on us,?” Steinitz said in an interview Wednesday with the 103 FM radio station. “We are a law-abiding nation and the Jafar Farah incident is in any event being looked into by the police internal investigations unit. This just shows how contemptible the EU is.”

Steinitz added however that while he expected no change in the EU’s attitude to Israel, friendship with individual European countries was “stronger than ever.”

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