Israel, EU agree to keep talking on settlement guidelines

Talks to continue in Brussels Thursday as sides look for solution that would allow Israel to participate in Horizon 2020 project.

A stop sign is seen outside a West Bank Jewish settlement (photo credit: Reuters)
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 Brussels.
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 implementation.
Thursday’s meeting is not expected to lead to a sudden resolution of the issue, and other meetings on the matter are expected.
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.