EU retracts statement on settlements

Official had said settlements strangled Palestinian economy, costing European taxpayers money.

Cibran-Uzal 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Cibran-Uzal 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An EU official's statement earlier this week that settlements are strangling the Palestinian economy and costing the EU taxpayers money by fostering PA dependency on European aid does not reflect the opinion of the European Commission and was not issued with Brussels' approval, Israel's envoy to the EU was told Wednesday. The envoy, Ran Curiel, met Wednesday in Brussels with a senior European Commission official who distanced himself from the statement, saying it was the initiative of Roy Dickinson, the No. 2 official at the European Commissions Technical Assistance Office in east Jerusalem. According to the Foreign Ministry, and confirmed by a senior EU diplomat, Curiel was told Dickinson acted on his own initiative, and not according to directives emanating from Brussels. The positions articulated in the statement do not reflect the position of EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferraro-Waldner, Curiel was told. The European Commission has given instruction to take the statement off of all official EU Web sites. Wednesday's meeting in Brussels came a day after Foreign Ministry senior deputy director-general Rafi Barak summonsed EU Ambassador Ramiro Cibrian Uzal to the ministry to protest the statement. According to the senior European Commission official, the unauthorized statement was part of the Technical Assistance Office's attempt to raise its profile and not only deal with aid and technical issues, but also with political ones, something Jerusalem wants to prevent.