Europe Pushes Ahead With Anti-Settlement Plan

Measure Bars Aid To Israeli Groups in Occupied West Bank

getty images

By Reuters

Published July 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The European Union, over Israeli protests, said on Friday it was pushing ahead with plans to bar EU financial aid to Israeli organisations operating in the occupied territories, but insisted the decision would not affect peace efforts.

New European Commission guidelines on EU financial support were published in the EU’s Official Journal as planned, despite intense lobbying by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has denounced them as meddling in Israel’s relations with the Palestinians.

Under the guidelines, Israeli “entities” operating in the occupied territories will not be eligible for EU grants, prizes or loans starting next year.

The Israeli government discussed its concerns over the EU rules with the British and French ambassadors and the German deputy ambassador on Thursday, an Israeli official said.

“This was an invitation, not a summons, to exchange views on the EU directive. We expressed our censure of the move - not least because it was a violation of the express assurance we had from the EU that Israel would first be consulted about it,” the official told Reuters.

The Israeli government kept up its criticism of the EU move, with Finance Minister Yair Lapid saying it would bolster Palestinians who balk at direct peacemaking with Israel.

“This isn’t just hypocrisy, it’s also stupidity … They (the EU) came along and did a service for the most extremist forces in Palestinian society,” he told Israel’s Channel Two TV.

The EU guidelines will apply to Israeli companies, universities or other bodies operating in areas occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East War, including the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The move was intended to underline EU opposition to Israeli settlement-building and its stance that it will not recognise any changes to Israel’s pre-1967 borders, except those agreed to by both Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks.

CONCERNS

After news of the Commission’s intentions emerged earlier this week, Netanyahu raised concerns over the EU’s plan with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and leaders of EU members France, Greece, Austria and Malta.

Netanyahu also raised the issue with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who visited the region this week to try to secure a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen said Kerry had been in touch with both Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton about the proposed EU guidelines in recent days but she gave no details.

Ashton sought to calm concerns over the guidelines, saying that they reiterated the EU’s “long-held position that bilateral agreements with Israel do not cover the territory that came under Israel’s administration in June 1967.”

“In no way will this prejudge the outcome of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians … The EU … fully supports Secretary Kerry’s intense efforts to restart negotiations at a particularly delicate stage,” she said in a statement.

The EU’s decision could make it politically difficult for the Jewish state’s pro-settlement government, which has called the pre-1967 boundaries indefensible, to sign accords with the 28-nation EU.

Palestinians praised the rules as a concrete step against settlement construction they fear will deny them a viable state.

Some 500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among about 2.5 million Palestinians. Palestinians seek a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.