The European Union is willing to discuss Israel’s objections to its recently
published “settlement guidelines,” but its degree of flexibility on the matter
is unclear, and Israel needs to draw its own “red lines,” a senior Israeli
official said Monday.
The official’s comments came as National Security
Council head Yaakov Amidror convened a meeting of senior officials from a number
of ministries – including the Foreign Ministry, the Economy and Trade Ministry,
the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space – to
discuss under what conditions Israel could begin negotiations with the EU over
its participation in the lucrative Horizon 2020 R&D program.
negotiations are set to begin a week from Wednesday. The issue is also expected
to be a major focus of attention when German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
comes to Jerusalem early next week.
The EU threw a wrench into Israel’s
participation in the 80 billion euro program when it published guidelines last
month prohibiting any EU funds in the form of grants, prizes and financial
instruments from going to Israeli entities beyond the pre-1967 lines, and also
mandating that any future agreements between Israel and the EU incorporate a
territorial clause stipulating that the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan
Heights are not part of Israel.
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s innovation
flagship program, meant to create jobs and fuel economic growth.
is the only non-EU country that has been asked to join as a full partner, and is
expected to pay some 600 million euros over the next seven years to take part.
This is considered a worthwhile investment, because for every shekel Israel
contributes, it is expected to get back NIS 1.5 in research funds and other
Israel needs to decide whether to begin negotiations
over participation in the project, or delay substantive talks on the program
until disagreements over the guidelines are resolved.
The internal Israel
discussions, one official said, is over red lines. Israel cannot sign a clause
that contradicts its own policies and laws. Israel annexed Jerusalem and the
Golan Heights, and will not sign a clause saying those areas are not part of
Israel. Furthermore, it is also not willing to sign an agreement that
discriminates against Israeli entities over the Green Line.
said that the internal discussions are not over boycotting the Europeans “to get
back at them” but over finding a formula both sides can live with.
meeting Amidror convened Monday evening was a prelude to a meeting Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to convene in the coming days with the
“political echelon” to determine Israel’s red lines, as well as to formulate the
tactics to prevent crossing those lines.