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February 27, 2013

Harsh EU report likely won’t spell settlement sanctions


Senior European Union officials stationed in East Jerusalem and Ramallah have recently recommended that the organization curb trade with Israelis located beyond the Green Line and cease financial support for them.

The move is seen as another indication of the EU’s growing frustration with Israeli settlement policies and the stagnating peace process, but the imposition of any kind of concrete sanctions against Israel remains unlikely.

In a new report sent to Brussels and foreign ministries in 27 member states, the consuls general representing the EU in the Palestinian territories call on the EU to “prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions including foreign direct investments, from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services,” Haaretz reported Wednesday.

The EU’s office in Israel declined to directly comment on the leaked document, but diplomats representing EU member states told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that while the report’s language seemed strong, suggesting a call for active EU divestment from the settlements, it signified no actual change in the union’s policy. The 2012 Heads of Mission report, which will be discussed by policymakers in Brussels but is nonbinding, merely calls for stricter implementation of already existing EU legislation, according to a European diplomat.

Even a harsh-sounding yet vaguely worded phrase, in which the consuls call on the EU to “prevent… problematic implications of financial transactions… in support of settlement activities,” already appeared in last year’s report, a senior European diplomat said.

According to Haaretz, the report makes seven recommendations that directly or indirectly suggest imposing sanctions on Israeli groups operating in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. The consuls urge Brussels to ensure strict enforcement of the EU’s policy to not give preferential treatment to imported goods from the West Bank and to prevent them from being labeled as originating in Israel. They also call upon the EU to stop supporting research projects by Israeli organizations located beyond the Green Line.

The EU does not recognize the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, as Israeli territory, and products from these areas therefore do not benefit from preferential trade arrangements between Israel and EU. However, the EU’s ambassador in Israel, Andrew Standley, told The Times of Israel earlier this month that the imposition of sanctions against Israel required a unanimous decision of the 27 member states and was therefore unlikely. “The EU is opposed to boycotts. This is not the way we operate in terms of our international relations,” he said.

However, Standley did acknowledge that EU officials were paying “renewed attention” toward figuring out to how to ensure that relevant EU regulations were correctly implemented. Such efforts could be understood as “the expression of concern at the political level at the lack of positive movement in the Middle East peace process” and continued Israeli settlement construction, he said.

In line with longstanding EU positions, the consuls’ 2012 report also slammed the Israeli government for seeking to expand the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Har Homa, Gilo and Givat Hamatos. Those plans are “systematic, deliberate and provocative” and aimed at preventing a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible, the senior diplomats said.

Posted by Ted Belman @ 5:45 pm | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to Harsh EU report likely won’t spell settlement sanctions

  1. Laura says:

    The EU does not recognize the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, as Israeli territory,

    Which means that they do recognize Jordan’s illegal 1948 conquest, occupation and ethnic cleansing of Jews in those areas.

  2. NormanF says:

    Laura Said:

    The EU does not recognize the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, as Israeli territory,
    Which means that they do recognize Jordan’s illegal 1948 conquest, occupation and ethnic cleansing of Jews in those areas.

    Netanyahu’s fingerprints are all over this report. He blocked a proposed law in the last Knesset that would have banned foreign funding of Israel-based anti-Israel NGOs like Breaking The Silence, that is behind this EU anti-Israel “report.”

  3. David Barrett says:

    These European Union officials stationed in East Jerusalem and Ramallah are forbidden to talk with official Israeli representatives and thus say what they do to appease and justify their presence in and amongst a volatile arab society
    Off the record I would love to know their private opinions

  4. catarin says:

    The EU and UN are not qualified to make decisions regarding the boundaries of the Middle East. Their decisions are not based on research, history or the facts on the ground but often on underhanded dealings. Decisions made after WW I by the Brits to not follow promises made has caused the Kurds 100 years of brutality because they were not granted a state on the land they have lived on for thousands of years. I’ve read the boundaries of present day Iraq have caused much of the turmoil there today. The Brits were responsible for addicting the people of China to opium, some grown in America. Two wars were fought in the 1700s to force the Chinese to accept more and more opium shipments. The Chinese fought back but could not overcome the Brits, and this caused the Qing Dynasty to fall.

    Would you want this country to be able to order Jews as to what their future should be?

    As far as I know, every European country has been responsible at one time or another for murdering and expelling Jews from their countries while the Jews were on their forced Diaspora. Would you want these people to force Jews to make decisions on the Jews’ security and homeland? The Jews are the People of the Book. If you want to know about Jews, read the Torah.

  5. Scott says:

    The above page is sponsored by the EU, filled with lies about Israel. What it really is, is a hate site disguised as “anti-Occupation.” I encourage everyone to pay them a visit and bombard them with the truth.

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