Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu slammed the European Union in an emergency cabinet meeting Tuesday, called after news broke that the EU initiated a directive requiring member states to boycott Israelis living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The directive included conditions for future contacts between the EU and the State of Israel.
“We will not accept any outside diktat about our borders,” pledged the Prime Minister, adding, “This issue will be decided only in direct negotiations between the sides.”
The Prime Minister criticized the EU for taking the steps unilaterally while paying lesser attention to urgent regional matters such as Syria’s civil war and Iran’s race towards nuclear armament.
“I would expect those who truly want peace and stability in the region would discuss this issue after solving more urgent regional problems such as the civil war in Syria or Iran’s race to achieve nuclear weapons,” he said.
Expressing solidarity with all Israeli citizens Netanyahu promised that “As the Prime Minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria, on the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem, our united capital, to be harmed.”
The meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem office. Those in attendance included Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin.
Earlier today Israeli daily Haaretz first reported that the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, two weeks ago issued the directive requiring all 28 member states to ban all funding, collaboration, scholarships, research grants and awards to Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while requiring that any future agreements signed with Israel must include a clause stating that the settlements are not part of the sovereign State of Israel and therefore are not part of said agreement. The directive goes into effect this Friday.
Israeli officials sharply criticized the move, and members of the Israeli cabinet also expressed disappointment in the timing of the decision, claiming it undermines U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent push to resume negotiations.
A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the ruling was an “earthquake” which unprecedentedly turns “understandings and quiet agreements that the Union does not work beyond the Green Line” into “formal, binding policy.”
For the first time, the EU formally forbids trade with bodies located beyond 1949 Armistice lines, including Golan.
The European Union has issued orders forbidding its member states from cooperating, transferring funds, giving scholarships or research grants to bodies in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem , and even the Golan Heights, Haaretz wrote Tuesday.
The new instruction, promulgated bt the European Commission, which is the operative arm of the EU, sets parameters for cooperation between the EU and its members states, on the one hand, and Israeli governmental and private elements on the other. The instructions are for the years 2014 – 2020 and will go into force on Friday, July 18.
The decision also states that any future agreement signed with Israel must include a section that says the “settlements” are not part of sovereign Israel and therefore not included in the agreement.
A senior source in the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the new EU decision is dramatic, and can be called “a true earthquake.”
“This is the first time in which a explicit and formal instruction like this is issued. Until now, there were silent understandings and agreements that the EU does not work beyond the Green Line” – as the 1949 Armistice Line is known – “but this is an official and binding prohibition.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said that the EU decision is “very worrisome” and will make it difficult for the state of Israel to conduct contacts with the EU regarding cooperation agreements.