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(photo credit: Ammar Awad/Reuters)
Germany distances itself from the "controversial European Union guidelines" banning cooperation with Israeli entities beyond the Green Line, a foreign policy spokesman in the Bundestag
announced on Friday.
In a statement
issued by MP Philipp Missfedler, the Bundestag spokesman for German chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian
Democratic Union party and its coalition partner the Bavarian Christian Social
Union, he stated the guidelines are “pure ideology and symbolic politics” and will
not contribute to finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Missfelder stated it is encouraging that the Federal Government has moved away from the
new EU directives, which declared that from January 1 2014, Israeli projects in the West Bank,
the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights will no longer be given European Union financial backing.
He added that the European regulations are not “objective
requirements” because over the last seven years of the approximately 800 million
Euros of financial aid from Brussels to Israel, only 0.5% was funneled into
projects covering the disputed territories.
“Israel is the recognized
administrative power in the territories without which approved development
projects like solar energy or sewage works could not be installed," Missfelder stated.
continued that an implementation of the new EU guidelines could mean an “end of
research cooperation with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem because some of
their academics have an address in East Jerusalem."
It is unclear if the German
position will reverse the EU action and lead to backtracking among other
countries within the 28 member EU body.
Missfelder said the EU guidelines
have a similar quality to the recent legislative initiative of the Green Party
in the Bundestag to label products from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East
The Green Party legislative initiative also fails to
contribute to a” constructive solution of the conflict in the Palestinian
territories,” said Missfelder.
He added that "instead of issuing statements
hostile to Israel, the Green Party faction should concentrate on a solution to
the essential questions of the Middle East conflict: Israel’s right to exist, an
end to terrorism and fundamentalist violence, as well as the creation of a
foundation for a two state solution, with final borders for both states.”
Missfelder’s disavowal of the product labeling measure appears to contradict
Germany’s Ambassador to Israel, Andreas Michaelis, who defended in a June
Jerusalem Post opinion article
labeling Israeli products made in the West Bank.
consumer protection law sets very detailed requirements for retail labeling.They exist to provide a level playing field for trade across Europe
and to inform consumers on the origin of products,” wrote
Jewish organizations such as the Wiesenthal Center and the
prominent German-Jewish journalist Henryk M.Broder declared the product labeling
measure to be a de-facto boycott of Israeli merchandise, which recalls the
Hitler movement’s boycott of Jewish businesses.
Michaelis, however, wrote, “Neither
are we in the business of calling for boycotts.”
The German Greens have come under fire because of their aggressive legislative push to label Israeli
products. The Neo-Nazi NPD party issued a similar demarcation measure to the
Green Party in a East German state legislature last year. The Green party deputy
Kerstin Müller played a critical role in the initiative targeting Israeli
settlement products. She is slated to take over the reins of the German Green
Party’s Heinrich Böll foundation office in Tel Aviv later this
“Obviously, a person who played a leading role in this initiative
is uniquely unsuitable to represent the Böll Foundation in Israel, but perhaps
they have an opening available in Ramallah,” Efraim Zuroff , the head of the
Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, told the Jerusalem Post
Müller has faced intense criticism over the last three years from
Germany’s Jewish community. The Central Council of Jews in Germany said in 2010
Müller displays an “intolerably paternalistic tone” toward Israel and toward
Jews in Germany. That year, she supported an anti-Israel parliamentary
resolution and attacked the council in a letter because its leadership
criticized the resolution. The resolution rebuked Israel for its interception of
the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which tried to break Israel’s legal blockade of
the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The head of the Berlin Jewish community,
Dr. Gideon Joffe, said in June that Müller’s conduct is anti-Semitic because she
singled out only the Jewish state for product labeling.
is an experienced foreign policy politician and with her longtime involvement in
German-Israeli relations and the Middle East peace process make her an ideal
representative for the foundation in Tel Aviv," Ralf Fücks, the head of the
Heinrich-Böll Foundation, wrote the Post in an email response.
Gerald Steinberg, from the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor, told the
Post at the time that“The Heinrich Böll Foundation irresponsibly channels German
taxpayer funds to some causes and organizations that promote political warfare
He cited the Greens support for “such radical
Palestinian groups as the Applied Research Institute in
Michael Schroeren, spokesman for the Green party faction in
the Bundestag, rejected the criticisms leveled at Müller.