Israeli relations with Europe strained

Scientists threaten boycott over Ahava

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Posted on: 
18 Jan 2012
Israeli relations with Europe strained

Relations between Israel and some of its European allies are under immense pressure this week following a statement on Monday by UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg condemning Israeli settlements as "deliberate vandalism" and a remark by a French legislator that Israel’s water policies in the West Bank amounted to “apartheid.” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon issued a statement on Tuesday during a visit to the UK that Clegg’s irresponsible and ill-informed, adding that they would encourage the Palestinian Authority to set pre-conditions for entering negotiations with Israel. "The settlement issue is but one of many core elements of the conflict. I don't think it is the major one...All those elements are inter-related and you cannot cherry-pick one and try to solve it irrespective of the others. All these issues should be on the table without pre-conditions," he told Reuters.

Elsewhere, Israel’s Foreign Ministry lashed out at a report publish recently by the French National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee and compiled by French MP Jean Glavany (Socialist Party) and a team of other legislators. Israeli officials said that the report entitled “The Jordan Basin: Water as an Integrated Hinge of the Territorial Conflict and Security Question,” which was a 20-page section in a more-than-300-page publication on “The Geopolitics of Water,” projected a grossly distorted image of the situation in the West Bank. Especially egregious was an insert at the end of the section, which contained the words; “Water, revealer of a new apartheid in the Middle East” emphasizing the reports main point that the region has become “the theater of a new apartheid.”

“The systematic evading of simple facts that are available for verification within the field indicate the blatant bias of the author,” a ministry spokesman said. “Instead of contributing to the understanding and cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, the report fuels the tensions by piling up false data and distorted statements, and this destructive approach must be dismissed from the beginning.”

Finally, a group of scientists in the UK issued a public statement on Tuesday declaring that they would boycott a European-funded study because one of the partners in the project is the Israeli skin care product manufacturer Ahava, which the group declares "extracts, processes and exports Palestinian resources to generate profits that fund an illegal settlement."

"We work within the legal and policy boundaries established by politicians and policymakers, and would not participate in any academic or educational boycotts that could restrict academic freedom," replied Natural History Museum's Director of Science Professor Ian Owens in a statement.

The project, called NanoReTox, aims to identify potential risks to the environment and human health posed by the tiny man-made materials. Ahava and nine other research bodies are also taking part, including the United States Geological Survey, Kings College London and Imperial College London.


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