Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Visegard Group summit in Budapest. (July 19 2017)

by Ilan Evyatar

Europe is undermining its own security by undermining Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday as he was caught on live microphone during a closed meeting in Budapest with the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

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He later summarized his remarks at a joint news conference with the heads of governments of the Visegrad Group member states.

“We have a peculiar situation here. The European Union is the only association of countries in the world that conditions its relations with Israel, that produces technology and every area, on political conditions,” Netanyahu said as he met with the four-nation central European alliance, the Visegrad Group.

“There is no logic here,” Netanyahu added, pointing out, “Europe is undermining its security by undermining Israel. Europe is undermining its progress by undermining the connection with Israeli innovation by a crazy attempt to create conditions.”

Netanyahu continued to drive home his point by saying that Israel enjoyed strong relations with India and China without any preconditions.

“We have a special relationship with China. And they don’t care,” Netanyahu said. “They don’t care about the political issues.”

Referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Israel, Netanyahu said, “ Modi came to Israel and …. said have to take care of the interests of India, I need more water, clean water. Where will I get it? Ramallah?”

Europe, he said, was acting not just against Israel’s interests but against its own interests.

“I think that if I can suggest that what comes out of this meeting is your ability perhaps to communicate to your colleagues in other parts of Europe: Help Europe – twice. Don’t undermine that one Western country that defends European values and European interests and prevents another mass migration to Europe. So stop attacking Israel, start supporting Israel,” he told the central European leaders.

The prime minister also admitted, before organizers realized the mics were open, that Israel had made ‘dozens’ of strikes against Hezbollah.

“I told Putin, when we see them transferring weapons to Hezbollah, we strike them. We’ve done it dozens of times,” he said. Netanyahu said Islamic State terrorists and Iran were establishing terror strongholds in the Syrian Golan Heights, across the border from Israel.

In his public comments, Netanyahu repeated that it was in the interests of Europe to cooperate with Israel in the fight against terrorism and in developing technology for the future.

Israel, Netanyahu said, sought cooperation with Europe, but that Western Europe singled out Israel more than any other place in the world.

“Israel is a bastion of European and Western values in the heart of a very, very dark area,” Netanyahu said. “This is understood today not only as serving our interests but I believe your interests. I believe that many of the Arab countries believe that Israel serves their interests, so it’s time to have a reassessment in Europe about relations with Israel.”

In concluding his remarks, Netanyahu said that the Visegrad Group had agreed to his invitation to meet next year in Israel.

Following the summit, the prime minister held bilateral meetings with the leaders of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. He met Tuesday with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who hosted the Visegrad Group meeting.

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