German gov’t supports EU settlement guidelines

Foreign Ministry denies backtracking from EU directive restricting cooperation with entities beyond the Green Line.

By JOHANNES C. BOCKENHEIMER
July 27, 2013 19:27
2 minute read.
German FM Guido Westerwelle with PM Netanyahu.

German FM Guido Westerwelle with PM Netanyahu 390. (photo credit: Koby Gidon/GPO)

 
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BERLIN – The German Foreign Ministry denied on Friday that the Merkel administration had backtracked from its support of EU guidelines banning cooperation with Israeli organizations beyond the Green Line.

In an email statement sent to The Jerusalem Post, a spokeswoman quoted Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle with respect to the new EU Commission guidelines.

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At a meeting last on July 22 in Brussels, he said that “we do not see any substantial change in Europe’s policies,” she wrote.

Westerwelle’s comments on Monday rebutted statements made by deputy Philipp Missfelder, Bundestag spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its coalition partner the Bavarian Christian Social Union. They also contradicted a report in the mass circulation German newspaper Bild.

Three days before Westerwelle’s announcement, the CDU/CSU Bundestag coalition welcomed the federal government’s decision to distance itself from the “controversial European Union guidelines,” in a statement published on the coalition’s website.

On the same Friday, Bild reported that the German “Foreign Ministry distances itself” from the EU guidelines.

The article stated that Germany initially agreed with the EU foreign ministers’ decision on the guidelines.



Bild quoted a spokeswoman for the ministry saying that the EU Commission used its “own authority” to draw up the guidelines following a decision by the EU foreign ministers.

Missfelder said the CDU/CSU statement was based on the Bild report that said the federal government had moved away from the EU guidelines.

Missfelder – a leading expert on the Middle East in the Bundestag – said the EU guidelines are “pure ideology and symbolic politics” that will not contribute to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Westerwelle said on Monday in Brussels, “We assume that the EU Commission will seek immediate talks with the Israeli government in order to clear up possible misunderstandings.

Of course, it is a matter for the commission to justify its own guidelines.”

The Foreign Ministry stressed that Westerwelle did not signal a reversal or a backing away from the EU guidelines during his meeting on Monday in Brussels.

The spokeswoman confirmed that a German diplomat was informed at Israel’s Foreign Ministry of Israel’s position regarding the EU guidelines.”

Israel rejects the EU guidelines as counterproductive for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry and as an infringement on Israel’s right to demarcate its own borders.

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