Israel suspends EU role in peace process with Palestinians

Israel said it is suspending discussion of its conflict with the Palestinians with EU officials

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Israel said Sunday it is suspending discussion of its conflict with the Palestinians with EU officials, in response to the bloc’s decision to label goods imported from Jewish settlements.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “ordered suspension of diplomatic contacts with the institutions of the European Union and its representatives on this issue,” the foreign ministry said in a Hebrew-language statement.

It said the ban would be in force for the duration of a reassessment of the bloc’s role in peace efforts.

But it went on to say that Israel would continue business as usual with national officials of European member states.

“It is important to make clear that Israel is maintaining diplomatic talks with individual European states - such as Germany, Britain and France - but not with the institutions of the European Union,” it said.

Netanyahu flies to Paris on Monday, where he will meet French President Francois Hollande, among other leaders, on the fringes of the U.N. climate conference.

The statement said Netanyahu, who is also foreign minister, ordered the freeze in answer to the EU’s November 11 decision to label settlement produce imported to Europe as such rather than “Made in Israel”.

The same day, Israel said it was suspending various scheduled EU meetings in response to the labelling move, which it harshly condemned.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday in Jerusalem and Ramallah but he left without a breakthrough and said he would continue to press both leaders on the issue in coming weeks.