The EU settlement guidelines need to be looked at carefully and changed where
they go beyond what was intended, without altering the overall spirit, French
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday.
Speaking at a Jerusalem
press conference at the end of his two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian
Authority, Fabius said this issue was brought up repeatedly during his meetings
with Israeli ministers, who raised specific problems about details of the
The text of the guidelines, which put into writing EU policy
restricting any EU financial cooperation with Israeli entities over the Green
Line and calling for Israel to sign a territorial clause limiting the scope of
any future agreement with the EU to the pre-1967 lines, was not a change from EU
policies and was meant to signal that there were ramifications for continued
settlement policy, he indicated.
However, Fabius added without going into
details, his interlocutors raised specific points that needed to be looked into.
“My conclusion is that we have to look closer and see if there were things that
were not intended, and make changes where changes need to be made without
changing the overall approach.”
According to diplomatic officials, this
issue was raised in nearly every one of Fabius’s meetings in Jerusalem. In
addition to meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the French foreign
minister also met on Saturday night and Sunday with President Shimon Peres,
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon,
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition head
Lapid asked Fabius to encourage the European Union to
change its decision not to fund research over the Green Line, or at least to
freeze this step during the current negotiations with the
Yacimovich criticized the European Union’s sanctions,
saying that the correct way to intervene was through positive, encouraging
Israeli diplomatic officials said that this issue was consistently
being raised with European leaders at the highest levels to “mitigate possible
damage.” Israel has said it will be unable to sign onto the lucrative 80 billion
euro Horizon 2020 R&D program if the guidelines are not modified somewhat.
Israel is currently trying to get European political leaders to lobby for such a
move at the upcoming informal EU foreign ministers meeting in early
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
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