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
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.
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
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
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
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.