A stop sign is seen outside a West Bank Jewish settlement.
(photo credit: Reuters)
A high level meeting between Israeli and European officials on the EU settlement
guidelines held in Jerusalem on Tuesday ended with an agreement – not on how to
solve the problem, but rather to meet again on the issue Thursday in
Both sides issued brief upbeat comments after the meeting about
the matter that has cast a cloud over EU-Israel relations since the EU, in July,
published guidelines barring any financial cooperation with Israeli entities
beyond the Green Line.
“There were fruitful discussions today between
Israel and the EU on the issue of the EU guidelines,” EU sources said. “Both
sides explained their positions and expressed their willingness to find
solutions to any potential difficulties. The talks will continue in Brussels on
Thursday in the framework of negotiations on Israel’s participation in the
Horizon 2020 project.”
The “fruitful discussion” characterization was
echoed on the Israeli side, where the talks were described as having taken place
in a “good, positive atmosphere.”
Israel has said that it would be unable
to join the lucrative EU Horizon 2020 R&D project under the terms of the
current guidelines. Israeli officials said that although there was little
expectation that the EU would change the wording of the published guidelines,
the hope was that it would show flexibility in their
Thursday’s meeting is not expected to lead to a sudden
resolution of the issue, and other meetings on the matter are
Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafi Barak and Deputy
Director-General Ran Curiel led the 13-person Israeli team at Tuesday’s meeting.
A smaller European team was led by Pierre Vimont, secretary-general of the
European External Action Service (EEAS), and Christian Berger, EEAS director for
North Africa, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Iraq. Lars Faaborg-
Andersen, the EU’s new ambassador-designate, also took part in the discussions.