Israel will not enter into any new agreements with the EU under the terms of the
recently published settlement guidelines, diplomatic sources said Thursday
following a meeting on the matter chaired by Prime Minister Binyamin
However, Netanyahu is to speak in the coming days with EU
foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to seek a formula that would make it
possible for Israel to begin negotiations with the EU on entrance into the
lucrative 80 billion euro Horizon 2020 R&D program.
prohibit any EU funds in the form of grants, prizes and financial instruments
from being used by Israeli entities outside the 1967 lines, and mandates that a
territorial clause must be incorporated into any future agreement that will
stipulate that the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not part
Israel has annexed east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and
Israeli law prohibits discriminating against Israeli companies or firms beyond
the Green Line. It is legally problematic, therefore, for Israel to invest money
in a program, and then, when it gets money back from that program, not to be
able to invest it in institutions beyond the Green Line.
were published last month, and are not to come into effect until January 1.
However, the issue is pressing now because Israel and the EU are scheduled to
begin talks on Horizon 2020 on Wednesday.
Horizon 2020 is the EU’s
innovation flagship program meant to create jobs and fuel economic growth.
Israel 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 euro Israel
contributes, it is expected to get back 1.5 euros in research funds and other
The sources said that Israel would ask for further
clarifications about the guidelines, but that an EU professional-technical team
was expected to arrive Wednesday to begin negotiations. In the conversation with
Ashton, Netanyahu is expected to say that if no agreement can be found, Israel
will not be able to participate.
The issue is expected to be a major
focus of attention when German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle comes to
Jerusalem early next week. Israel is interested in getting the political
leadership of the EU involved so it can influence the bureaucrats who, in
Jerusalem’s estimation, pushed the whole guideline issue forward in the first
On the day the guidelines were published in mid June, Ashton
issued a statement inviting Israel to hold discussions on “the territorial scope
of agreements with the EU that are currently under
Thursday’s meeting was, in addition to Netanyahu, attended
by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Education Minister
Shai Peron, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Science, Technology and Space
Minister Yaakov Peri, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and Deputy Foreign
Minister Ze’ev Elkin.
One source said that the majority of the ministers
at the meeting were in favor of engagement with the Europeans over Horizon 2020,
and of working out the language during those talks, but that Netanyahu said he
first wanted to discuss the matter with Ashton.
The source said, however,
there was consensus among the ministers that the EU guidelines significantly
damaged the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.