The European Union is weighing Israeli proposals for compromise language with
regard to its guidelines against West Bank settlements that would allow the two
entities to continue to sign cooperative agreements.
On Sunday, an EU
delegation, led by executive secretary-general of the European External Action
Service Pierre Vimont was in Israel and met with officials in the Foreign
Ministry on the issue.
“Yesterday, the EU and Israel held serious and
pragmatic discussions on mutually acceptable ways to ensure full Israeli
participation in EU programs, notably Horizon 2020,” a diplomatic source said.
“The EU side returned to Brussels with detailed suggestions made by the Israeli
side: these will be considered further and will be subject to further discussion
as soon as possible.”
Failure to find an accommodating position on the
issue of West Bank settlements could make it impossible for Israel to sign a new
agreement to participate in the EU’s major research and development program,
known as Horizon 2020, which Israel has been involved with since
Israel has until the end of November or the start of December to
sign onto the program.
But it won’t do so, if the EU inserts language
into the document, that explicitly prohibits funding or prizes to Israeli
entities located over the pre-1967 lines, including east Jerusalem.
these guidelines express existing EU policy, the insertion of new more explicit
language on West Bank settlements into its new agreements with Israel, would
keep Jerusalem from signing such documents.
Last week, while vice
president of the European Commission Antonio Tajani visited Israel, preliminary
agreements were signed on industrial cooperation and small and medium
The Israel Space Agency last week signed a preliminary
document of what could be its first cooperative agreement with the European
Union in the field of satellite navigation.
But none of these three
agreements can be finalized, unless acceptable language is found to reference
the EU’s West Bank settlement guidelines.
While Tajani was in Israel last
week with a mission of 65 EU companies and organizations, he spoke with
President Shimon Peres of the importance of Israel-EU ties, particularly with
respect to business, science, technology, aviation and tourism.
added that Horizon 2020 was offered many cooperative opportunities for the two
parties to work on research and innovation.
“Israel is very important for
us. Israel is a friend of Europe. We have the same history, the same heritage
the same culture,” Tajani said.
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali
Bennett, who met with Tajani, said he told the EU politician that the “current
guidelines are unacceptable. He [Tajani] said they were working to make them
Bennett added that Tajani “was very warm.”
past year, Europe has taken a harsher stance with Israel against its West Bank
settlements, which it believes are illegal. Israel has said that the EU’s
attitude on territory over the pre-1967 lines is harmful to the peace process,
because it prejudges the outcome of the negotiations it is holding with the