EU: Only small part of Modi'in on settlement list

European Union statements on Palestinian issue being driven by "partisan elements," says Israeli official.

European Union flags in Brussels 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
European Union flags in Brussels 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The European Union issued a statement Wednesday clarifying that it did not place the entire Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut municipality on a list it compiled of settlements, but rather only three zip codes in the community that are just beyond the Green Line.
The EU was responding to a Foreign Ministry statement from a day earlier saying that “for anyone who deals in reality, there is not the slightest doubt that the Modi’in, Maccabim and Re’ut localities are an integral part of Israel, and their future is not in question. The EU ignores reality when it extends the domain of conflict to places and issues that do not belong there.”
The dueling statements followed the EU’s publication on Tuesday of zip codes and a list of settlements from which manufactured products would not be allowed duty-free entrance into Europe.
Since 2004, Israeli exporters to EU countries have had to list zip codes and place names from where goods were manufactured. Under the EU-Israel free trade agreement, Israeli products are allowed into the EU duty-free, but not products made in the settlements. EU products coming into Israel also enjoy duty-free status.
In addition to anger at the inclusion of parts of Modi’in, Maccabim and Re’ut on the list, the Foreign Ministry also took umbrage at what it said was the body’s decision to unilaterally publish the list on an internal EU website while negotiations over the issue were taking place with Israel.
The EU statement Wednesday reiterated that on the basis of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, “all manufactured goods and nearly all agricultural goods are imported into the EU from Israel free of customs duties. However, customs duties need to be paid for goods produced in Israeli localities beyond the Green Line.”
Since 2004, the statement said, an arrangement between the EU and Israel was put in place whereby the list of zip codes and those localities that could not benefit from the customs exemptions was distributed to the customs authorities of the EU member states.
The decision to publish the list now, the statement continued, was meant to “ensure full implementation” of the agreement and create greater transparency.
“This will make it easier for EU importers to determine whether customs duties need to be paid or not,” the statement read.
“The notice does not change how customs duties are applied to goods coming from Israel. It only advises importers to consult the list of postcodes to ensure that they do not claim exemptions to which they are not entitled.”
Israeli officials said that the decision to publish the list came as a result of pressure from various parliamentarians and NGOs in Europe who complained that various businesses from the settlements were falling through the cracks and gaining duty-free access to European markets.
One official said that the impression in Jerusalem was that when it came to statements regarding Israel and the Palestinians, “elements who are really partisan” seemed to be driving policy, “maybe because the higher-level leadership is dealing with more important issues.” The official listed the consuls-general of the EU countries in east Jerusalem as among those partisan elements.
The official said the decision to raise the issue of Modi’in- Maccabim-Re’ut was “simply ludicrous” and has never been raised during any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “Positions like this will make the EU irrelevant,” he said.
Regarding the three areas, the EU statement said that the zip codes on the list “correspond to localities within the territories brought under Israeli administration since June 1967. In contrast to the statement published by the MFA [Israeli Foreign Ministry] on 14 August, Modi’in-Maccabim- Re’ut is not included in its entirety in this list. In fact the list refers only to three zip codes – 71724, 71728 and 71799 – that correspond to the small part of Modi’in-Maccabim- Re’ut that is situated beyond the Green Line.”
The statement said that “the EU has consistently called upon the parties to resume negotiations on all final status issues, including borders.”
“The EU will recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders agreed by the parties,” it continued. Regarding Israel’s claim that the EU took the action unilaterally, the statement said the publication of the list did not require negotiations.
“However, prior to its publication, the EU, in accordance with the 2004 arrangement, extensively consulted with the Israeli government and its suggestions have been taken into account as far as possible.”