Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard has threatened sanctions against Israel if the country doesn’t go along with the proposed terms in the peace talks taking place in Egypt this week.
In the talks, which will get underway in Cairo on Tuesday, Lidegaard wants to see Israel commit to ending its eight-year blockade of Gaza and stop its “illegal settlements”. The foreign minister is also calling on Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to lay down their weapons.
If the talks fail to reach any long-term concessions from both sides, Lidegaard said that Denmark and the EU should adopt a tougher approach to Israel.
“If nothing happens in the peace talks this time, and if we don’t see a new pattern of response from Israel’s side, then we will need to discuss the possibility of taking new steps including changes to our trade relations with Israel,” Lidegaard told Jyllands-Posten.
“I hope that it doesn’t come to that, but I think that the EU’s policies are moving in that direction,” he added.
Lidegaard’s comments failed to gain traction amongst his colleagues. Opposition parties the Conservatives and the Danish People's Party immediately spoke out against the threat of sanctions, while the trade minister, Mogens Jensen, told Jyllands-Posten that sanctions should only be considered with a broad international backing.
“Only when a broad international coalition can agree on sanctions do I think it is reasonable to consider that action. I’m not at a point where I can say that there is a need for sanctions,” Jensen said.
The 50-day war between Israel and Hamas that concluded last month resulted in more than 2,100 casualties on the Palestinian side and 70 on the Israeli side.
Lidegaard has previously condemned the “unbearable” loss of life in the conflict.
“I see both myself and Denmark as friends of Israel, but Israel doesn’t always make it easy for its friends to defend the country’s actions when so many innocent men, women and children are killed,” Lidegaard wrote on Facebook in July.