Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his visit in Lithuania, saying he hoped to deepen ties with eastern EU nations as Brussels blasted Israel’s plans for fresh settlements in the West Bank.
Dozens of Pro-Palestinian activists waved Palestinian flags and chanted that Netanyahu was “not welcome” while railing against Lithuania‘s ties with Israel outside government buildings in the capital Vilnius, where he held talks with his Lithuanian counterpart Saulius Skvernelis.
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 levelled 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,” Netanyahu added.
Israel approved plans for more than 1,000 settlement homes in the occupied West Bank 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 settlements “would further jeopardise the prospect of a contiguous and viable future Palestinian state,” Kocijancic continued.
Netanyahu said he wanted “to achieve a balance in the European Union’s not always friendly relations with Israel” ahead of the the first-ever visit by an Israeli premier to Lithuania.
Israeli PM will meet the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in Vilnius during the visit, which is set to last until Sunday, August 26.