Israel and EU officials met in Brussels on Thursday for the second time in three days on the EU’s settlement guidelines, with Israeli officials advising afterward not to expect any sudden or dramatic breakthroughs.
The talks, which continued for some seven hours and included nearly a dozen participants from each side, took place within the framework of negotiations over Israel’s involvement in the EU’s 80 billion euro Horizon 2020 R&D project. The two sides met in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
One official said an agreement over Israel’s participation in this program would have to be signed by mid-November, and that the negotiations over the implementation of the guidelines were likely to continue up until then.
Israel has said it would not join the program under the guidelines that were published in July and banned EU cooperation with any Israeli entities beyond the 1967 lines, including east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. According to the guidelines, any future agreements between Israel and the EU would have to incorporate a territorial clause essentially acknowledging that the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not part of Israel.
Greek ambassador Spiros Lampridis told The Jerusalem Post he did not believe that the results of the negotiations would be that Israel “will not take part in Horizon 2020, and that all programs will be scrapped, and there will be no Israeli-EU cooperation.”
“Under no circumstances do we want that to happen,” he said, “and I do not believe that it will be happen. I am sure that our technocrats are capable enough to find the right wording to make Israel more comfortable with what in principle, and in political terms, has been there forever.”
Lampridis said that although the guidelines reflect what has been Europe’s policy towards the settlements for years, he understood Israel’s objections to signing the territorial clause because it is so “explicit.”
“If I put myself in the Israeli shoes I can see why they are not able to sign it,” he said.
“Therefore our task as European states is to find alternatives to make this thing workable for both sides. We are not here to fight, we are here too cooperate, and if Israel cannot cooperate with the EU, and vice versa, then that means that the EU is not really understanding the importance of Israel in the framework of the of the Western family.”