EU building 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Vincent Kessler)
Israel accused the European Union of attempting to prejudice the outcome of
Israeli- Palestinian negotiations, in response to the European Commission’s
posting Friday of guidelines against awarding grants, prizes and funding to
Israeli entities over the pre-1967 lines.
“Israel rejects the attempt by
the European Commission to coerce positions on issues, which belong at the
Israeli- Palestinian negotiations table,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal
“Israel’s borders will not be determined by European
Commission guidelines but by negotiations between the concerned parties,” he
continued, adding that “it would have been preferable if the energy put into
drafting these guidelines had been invested in peace-promoting
The guidelines were published hours before US Secretary of
State John Kerry announced the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel
and the Palestinians.
Former deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon wrote
in a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel
on Friday that the EU’s position
on West Bank settlements does not give the Palestinians any incentive to
negotiate a final status agreement for a two-state solution.
“Such a step
will harden the position of the Palestinians, who will lose any reason to
negotiate. This in turn will stifle any flexibility that Israel may have thought
to offer, thus alienating prospects for peace,” Ayalon explained.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Friday that the
guidelines were not meant to “prejudge the outcome of peace negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinians.”
“The EU is deeply committed to
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and fully supports Secretary Kerry’s intense
efforts to restart negotiations at a particularly delicate stage,” Ashton
The EU has said it would recognize the final borders of a two-state
solution that are jointly agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinians, Ashton
said, adding that its position on territory over the pre- 1967 lines had not
“Today the EU published a document that reiterates the long-held
position that bilateral agreements with Israel do not cover the territory that
came under Israel’s administration in June 1967.”
She said this was done
now to clarify the EU position before negotiations with Israel over financial
agreements that will commence in 2014.
The guidelines follow a December
10, 2012, EU decision to include language in any future agreement with Israel
that clarifies that areas outside of the pre-1967 lines are not part of
EU agreements with Israel prior to December 2012 did not clarify
this point, even though it was tacitly understood that they do not include
territory beyond the pre-1967 lines.
On Friday, Ashton said that the new
guidelines on prizes, grants and funding would not be implemented before January
“In the meanwhile, the EU looks forward to working and consulting with
Israel on a broad range of bilateral issues, and has invited Israel to hold
discussions on the territorial scope of agreements with the EU that are
currently under preparation,” Ashton said.
In essence, these discussions
would involve the two sides trying to hash out language on the “territorial
clause” that both sides can live with.
The guidelines do not spell out
exactly what the so-called “territorial clause” on future agreements will
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.”
A senior diplomatic official
said this was language Israel could live with. However, he added, an example of
language Jerusalem would not agree to 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
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.