EU sources: Settlement directive will be published as planned

PM Netanyahu and President Peres fall short in effort to convince the European Union to freeze publication of guidelines.

By
July 18, 2013 14:03
2 minute read.
A Palestinian waves a flag in front of the W. Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra, April 26, 2013.

Palestinian with flag W. Bank370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Torokman)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres failed to convince the EU to freeze the publication on Friday of new guidelines restricting interaction with Israeli entities beyond the pre-1967 lines, EU sources said on Thursday.

However, the sources added, the EU will hold discussions about implementation of the guidelines with Israel. The sources noted that the guidelines will not come into effect until January 1.

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Netanyahu and Peres phoned EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday night to request that the publication be frozen.

The EU Commission issued a statement on Thursday saying Barroso “explained the context and the objective of the guidelines.” Barroso said that the guidelines did not represent a shift in the EU position, and the intention was to continue EU-Israel cooperation “within its internationally recognized borders.

“Following a request from Israeli authorities the EU stands ready to engage in consultations on their implementation,” he said.

He also added that the EU “supports the US efforts to resume the peace talks without preconditions.”

One of Israel’s arguments against the step is that it will torpedo the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry to restart peace talks.

Peres alluded to the damage this could do to Kerry’s efforts.

“Wait with your decision – make peace a priority. Don’t put in place irresponsible sanctions which will damage the peace process,” the president said on Thursday, publicly addressing the EU move.

While stating that he had “great respect” for the EU, he said this decision was “unnecessary and untimely.”

“The issues are complex and sensitive, delay your decision,” Peres said to the EU.

He added that the Europeans should make “peace the priority,” and that the decision “could lead to another crisis in our region.” He did not elaborate.

The EU’s willingness to talk about “implementation” of the guidelines, rather than freezing them, appears to be a readiness to talk about the formula for wording in future EUIsrael financing agreements regarding their inapplicability beyond the 1967 lines.

The guidelines do not spell out exactly what the so called “territorial clause” on future agreements will say, and Barroso’s statement is an indication that there is “wiggle room.”

For instance, in the recently signed Open Skies aviation agreement, the territorial clause reads: “The application of this agreement is understood to be without prejudice to the status of the territories that came under Israel’s administration after June 1967.” Senior diplomatic officials said this was language Israel could live with.

An example of language Jerusalem would not sign, he added, was the draft of the next stage of the Euro-Med Youth Program, which read: “This agreement will be implemented in conformity with the European Union’s position that the territories that came under Israel’s administration in June 1967 are not part of the territory of Israel.”

The discussion between the two sides will now apparently be aimed at finding a formula that both sides are comfortable with.

Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.


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