The European Union’s decision not to include the West Bank in agreements with
Israel is a sign the government should start peace talks, Finance Minister Yair
Lapid said on Tuesday.
“This decision is one of a long line of decisions
leading to Israel’s isolation from the world,” Lapid said. “Time is not on our
side, and every day that Israel is not in peace talks is a day that our
international standing worsens.”
At the same time, the Yesh Atid chairman
criticized the EU’s actions, saying it comes with terrible timing and harms US
Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart negotiations.
EU’s decision sends a signal to the Palestinians that there is no international
or economic price for their continual refusal to return to talks and leads them
to believe that Israel will have to give in to economic and diplomatic
pressure,” the finance minister explained.
Lapid added that he plans to
explain to Israel’s friends in the EU that their directive will not help them
reach their goals, and will keep peace away rather than bring it
Right-wing MKs expressed outrage at the European Union’s
announcement, calling it racist and using Holocaust metaphors.
“This is a
decision marked with racism and discrimination against the Jewish people that is
reminiscent of boycotts against Jews from over 66 years ago,” Construction and
Housing Minister Uri Ariel said.
Ariel called for the government not to
sign any agreements that include an article saying Judea and Samaria are not
part of the sovereign State of Israel.
Knesset Finance Committee chairman
Nissan Slomiansky, also from Bayit Yehudi, pointed out that “the Middle East is
on fire and thousands of people are killed each month,” and recommended the EU
deal with the real problems in the region.
“Meanwhile, we’ll continue
building and developing,” Slomiansky said.
Deputy Minister for Liaison
with the Knesset Ofir Akunis (Likud Beytenu), a close ally of Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, called the EU’s decision an unfortunate
“Steps like this, before the Palestinians even said they are
ready to return to negotiations, push talks away and do not bring them
Judea and Samaria are not occupied, they are the cradle of the
homeland of the Jewish people,” Akunis said.
MK Eli Yishai (Shas) said
the EU was taking illegitimate, unilateral action.
“The EU’s stance is
important, but what is more important is the opinion and faith of the citizens
of Israel, and the government must ensure them defense and security,” Yishai
Yishai called for Netanyahu to announce, in response to the
boycott, that he will stop freezing construction in Jerusalem.
MKs on the
Left saw the EU directive as a wake-up call for the
“Increasing diplomatic isolation harms the country and the
market and is a strategic threat no weaker than advance weapons pointed at us,”
opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said.
At the same time,
Yacimovich said it is unfortunate that, rather than help the US in their efforts
to renew peace talks, the EU “focuses on boycotts and sanctions.”
Minister Netanyahu must immediately start negotiations with the Palestinian
Authority and work toward a final agreement,” she said. “This is not for the
Europeans, the Americans or the Palestinians, but for Israel. US Secretary of
State John Kerry’s efforts continue, which is why I call for the prime minister
to make every effort, and as opposition leader I commit to giving him a
political safety net.”
Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri
(Yesh Atid) denounced on Tuesday the expected European Union move to sign
scientific agreements with Israel only if they involve institutions that do not
have any connection with institutions and individuals beyond the Green
The move by the European Commission could harm 40 percent of
research and development academic grants in Israel, the minister
“Israel has been running from the truth, and the EU accepted it for
us,” MK Nachman Shai (Labor) said. “A red line has been drawn between Israel and
Judea and Samaria. For Europe, Israel is not Judea and Samaria, and Judea and
Samaria are not Israel.”
Shai said that when boycotts and sanctions
follow, the government shouldn’t say it didn’t know they were
“The fantasy the Right is trying to spread, that the status quo
is for our own good, was defeated yet again by the EU’s decision,” MK Omer
Bar-Lev (Labor) said, warning that this is another step in the delegitimization
of Israel and a sign that action is necessary to ensure Israel remains a
democratic state with a Jewish majority.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal- On
connected the European Union decision to the Tisha Be’av fast, saying the Temple
was destroyed because of “religious extremism pushing for a rebellion against
“Like then, today Israel is going against the entire democratic
world and insisting to build settlements and continuing the occupation,” Gal-On
wrote on Facebook.
“The EU policy not to allow trade with companies in
the territories is a yellow card to the Israeli government and is a direct
result of continued construction in settlements and outposts and a diplomatic
Although there is not a boycott of Israel yet, and there is a
differentiation between the sides of the Green Line, Gal-On said that if the
occupation and settlement building continue, “the religious settlement extremism
will bring our destruction, as it did then.”
Peri said the expected
European decision that scientific agreements will have a clause saying they are
not relevant to Israeli academic institutions with dealings outside the Green
Line “will endanger our scientific connections with the EU.
implementation of the decision is liable to prevent Israeli scientists from
participating in R&D projects of the EU with large grants compared to
scientists in other countries.”
As academic institutions in the
territories, such as Ariel University, do not have any financial involvement
with the EU currently, the new EU policy refers to the other Israeli
universities inside the Green Line that have connections with academic
institutions or academic participants who live in the territories.
added that such a criterion will force Israeli scientists to compete “with one
hand tied behind their backs” for research grants from the EU. Academic
institutions within the state borders will have to declare their research
project has no involvements in the territories if they want EU
Every year, Israeli academics successfully compete for
prestigious grants in the European R&D projects.
The seventh such
framework program has so far funded 1,900 Israeli research projects carried out
in the universities, industry and hospitals – for a total of 750 million
Peri instructed his staff to study the budgetary significance of
all scientific research and technological applications that are being developed
as government projects and to prepare a new budget if the EU decision is carried
Meanwhile, MK Hilik Bar (Labor) submitted a “Two States Bill”
stating the final status of the West Bank can only be determined as part of a
peace agreement leading to a two-state solution.
Bar’s legislation comes
in response to calls on the Right to annex part or all of Judea and
“Unilateral annexation will make a two-state solution impossible
and will end Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, landing a deadly
blow to Zionism,” Bar said.
“Our bill will give MKs the choice: two
states for two peoples, or one state for two peoples.”