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August 03 2013

Israeli envoy : EU formed guidelines 'under the radar', broke promise to show us draft by Barak…

Israeli envoy: EU formed guidelines ’under the radar’, broke promise to show us draft
by Barak Ravid
Haaretz, 3rd of August 2013

Israeli ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, David Walzer, admitted in a document sent to Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Ministry Director-General Rafael Barak that he was indeed surprised by the formulation and timing of the EU guidelines on settlements. In the document, which is part of an inquiry held on the guidelines, Walzer insists that he and his staff were not guilty of negligence.

A senior official in the ministry revealed that several days after Haaretz first published the new EU guidelines as to settlements, Elkin directed Barak to hold an investigation as to possible failings of the Israeli delegation to the EU and the Foreign Ministry in the matter.

July 23 2013

Catherine Ashton : Israeli settlement products to be labeled in EU by end of 2013 By Barak Ravid…

Catherine Ashton: Israeli settlement products to be labeled in EU by end of 2013
By Barak Ravid
Haaretz, 23rd of July

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is seeking to draft comprehensive guidelines on labeling settlement products by the end of this year, she told several senior EU officials last week.

She made the comment in a letter - a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz - sent on July 8 to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the seven commissioners responsible for justice, industry, consumer protection, agriculture, taxation, trade and internal market. The commission is the EU’s executive arm.

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July 17 2013

Israel's moment of truth is approaching - settlements and Europe 17th of July 2013 Editorial…

Israel’s moment of truth is approaching - settlements and Europe
17th of July 2013
Editorial Haaretz

The European Union recently issued a directive stipulating that agreements between Israel and EU member countries will not apply beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

According to Barak Ravid’s report Tuesday, the EU guideline, binding on all of its 28 member states, bars any funding or cooperation with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The order also requires that any future agreements signed with Israel include a provision stating that the settlements are not part of the State of Israel and therefore are not subject to these agreements.

The sanctions imposed directly on the settlements and indirectly on the State of Israel have thus been ratcheted up a notch. A senior official in Jerusalem characterized the new EU directive as “an earthquake.” The guideline has reportedly generated tension and concern in both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry.

The report of this latest development comes just days after Yossi Verter reported that major European banks recently considered a recommendation to cease providing loans to any financial entity in Israel with direct or indirect links to the settlements. That recommendation has been put on hold for the time being, but it, too, has engendered concern.

And Justice Minister Tzipi Livni recently warned that Europe might not be satisfied with a boycott of the settlements; boycotts could be extended to include all of Israel proper. These developments reflect a new international reality that is rapidly taking shape. For now, for the most part, they are still merely warnings − but ones that Israel cannot ignore.

Until now, European governments have striven to maintain good relations with Israel despite the impasse in peace negotiations and construction in the settlements − sometimes to the chagrin of growing segments of the population in their own countries. The United States’ position and the legacy of European history have prevented harsher measures. Now, however, it appears that the patience of European governments is about to be exhausted.

In the immediate future, Israel will have to decide if it is prepared to sign agreements containing the new territorial limitations, which will have to be included in accords with all EU member states. If not, the European Union, which is the largest market for Israeli exports, is liable to halt its cooperation with Israel.

Israel can persist in its recalcitrance. The government can continue to impose more and more conditions on an agreement with the Palestinians. But the moment of truth is quickly approaching. Israel’s government needs to decide if it is ready to continue to endanger the country’s future for the sake of continuing the occupation.

How the EU caught Israel off guard with its new settlement guidelines by Barak Ravid Haaretz

How the EU caught Israel off guard with its new settlement guidelines
by Barak Ravid

A senior Israeli official Tuesday described new guidelines conditioning future EU agreements with Israel on the latter’s recognition of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as occupied territories as an “earthquake.”

The guidelines, which were drawn up by the European Commission, are expected to be officially released on Friday. Haaretz revealed Tuesday that the document was circulated among all the EU institutions, foundations, investment funds and aid organizations two weeks ago, as well as to all 28 EU member states. They go into effect on January 1.

In a scathing response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will not accept any external edicts on our borders.” Most cabinet ministers were caught by surprise. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called the decision an “economic terror attack.” Finance Minister Yair Lapid said it was “unfortunate and badly timed,” adding, “every day that Israel is not in talks harms its international status even further.” Meanwhile, opposition chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich called for an immediate resumption of talks.

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