The government should ban European Union-funded projects in Area C of the West Bank until the EU rescinds its new policies against areas across the pre- 1967 lines, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday.
“All European projects [for Palestinians] in Judea and Samaria should be stopped until this unilateral decision is rescinded,” the council stated.
It was one of a number of calls by settler and rightwing organizations that urged the government to take a no-holds-barred approach to combating the EU’s anti-settlement stance.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head David Perl called on Israel to annex Area C.
“Now is the time for the prime minister to stand up and apply Israeli law on territory that is part of our homeland, and in so doing fix an ongoing historical distortion,” Perl said.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel urged the government immediately to pass the Edmund Levy report, which says that Israel has a right under international law to settle in the West Bank.
“The right answer to the EU is the immediate implementation of the Edmund Levy report to clarify to the Europeans and others that it is not our policy to weaken our legal and historic right to the land,” the forum said.
Settlers were blasting the EU on Tuesday in response to new European Commission guidelines, published on June 30, that Israeli governmental and non-governmental entities over the pre-1967 lines were not eligible for EU grants, prizes or funding. The guidelines followed a December 10 decision by the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which said that all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU were not applicable over the pre-1967 lines.
The EU has consistently refused to recognize Israel beyond the pre- 1967 lines, also known as the Green Line, and as such the move has little pragmatic impact for West Bank settlements and institutions situated there. They were not eligible for EU grants and funding before, and they are still not eligible.
But the EU’s strong policy statement against West Bank settlements, made for the second time in less than a year, has a diplomatic impact on its relationship with Israel, and underscores the extent to which it considers Israeli areas over the pre-1967 lines to be illegal and illegitimate.
In particular, based on the December 10 decision, new language explaining that the EU does not recognize territory over the pre- 1967 lines will now be included in any future agreements with Israel.
The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said it was upset that policy statements about this had become public on Tisha Be’av, the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple 2,000 years ago.
“Europe has not learned from its history. On the ninth of Av, Europe returns to its policy of boycott and separation against the State of Israel,” the council said. It added that this kind of unqualified support for the Palestinian Authority had turned the EU into a non-neutral entity in the West Bank.
Israeli left-wing groups, meanwhile, hailed the EU’s move.
Peace Now, which supports a two-state solution along the pre- 1967 lines, advised Israel to take the move seriously.
“The EU’s decision broadcasts a clear message that the world does not recognize the West Bank settlements, which contradict universal democratic values. Israel’s government is fighting a losing battle against the global understanding that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has to end,” the group said.
“Israel can’t force Israeli and international officials to take part in the settlement enterprise, which goes against a worldview of moral values,” it added.
Gush Shalom said the EU’s position was akin to pouring a bucket of cold water over Israel’s head.
“The EU has started to confront the government of Israel – and every citizen of Israel – with a road sign that cannot be ignored,” Gush Shalom said, adding that one path led to peace and international esteem, and the other to war.
“The time to choose between these two paths is running out,” it said.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomed the move, but said more work was necessary. It called on the EU to penalize any company that worked with the settlements, even if the firms were not located there.
Dani Dayan, who holds a new post as the ambassador for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, hinted on Twitter at the wartime process of “selektzia,” by which Nazi officers would decide which Jews headed for the gas chambers on their arrival at the death camps.
“How will selection be done on youth delegations?” Dayan tweeted.
“A German will say: Tel Aviv to the right, East Jerusalem to the left? Or will it be a Polish job?” The move, he said, was a sign that the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria was growing stronger.
“When we were small, no one bothered. Today we are almost 700,000 Israelis beyond Green Line, so they are bothered. Good deal,” he tweeted.
Ariel Mayor Eliyahu Shviro charged that the new EU guidelines were tantamount to a boycott.
“I’m against boycotts of any kind.
They do not achieve the objective of the boycotters. What [they do] is place more lighter fluid on already existing divisions. But that could be what the initiators of this EU initiative intended,” Shviro said.
“Those who want to bridge differences and unify people can’t use the unacceptable boycott tool,” he added.
Thousands of Palestinians work in factories and businesses in Samaria, the mayor said. It would not occur to anyone to ban them from those jobs because of their religion, belief or place of residence.
Perl called the EU move an “obscene” and “contemptible” decision.
“This kind of blatant interference in the management of a democratic and independent state is unprecedented. It’s time that the EU dealt with its own problems instead of interfering in Israel’s,” he said.
“A two-state solution is delusional and without merit,” he continued.
“Today it is clear that the Palestinians do not want and are not capable of coming to an agreement [with Israel].”