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EU: Guidelines weren't meant to stop Israeli entities operating beyond Green Line

The European Union says that contrary to reports, its new settlement guidelines don’t require Israeli entities to stop operating beyond Green Line.

European Union flags outside the European Commission building in Brussels. (Shutterstock.com)

The EU delegation in Israel sent me a response to my item (and the Maariv piece I quoted) regarding changes to the new guidelines on ties with Israeli institutions that operate beyond the Green Line. In short, the claim is that the original guidelines were never meant to limit activities beyond the Green Line – only to make sure that European grants and prizes are not part of such projects.

The demand from Israelis entities not to operate beyond the Green Line at all, the EU delegation to Israel says, was only made with regards to loans, which constitute less than 10 percent of funds the EU allocates in Israel. Here is the full statement:

“Both the report on the EU guidelines in Ma’ariv and +972’s coverage of that report failed to make an important distinction between loans and grants. What is referred by +972 as “the most important article” (12b) clearly refers to “financial instruments” (loans) whereas the conditions relating to grants clearly appear in other articles. Article 12b, referring to loans, indeed states that, “Israeli entities will be considered eligible as final recipients if they do not operate in the territories [conquered on June 1967].” Regretfully, in both reports, the mistaken impression was given that this clause refers to grants which constitute the vast majority of EU funding in Israel.

In the case of grants, the guidelines state that the beneficiary must be legally registered inside the 1967 lines and hold the EU-funded activity inside the 1967 lines. There is no requirement in the guidelines that states that beneficiaries of EU grants not operate in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.”

I will post more updates and some analysis on this issue in the coming days.

The day Europe got Israel’s attention

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    1. My guess is that they are using a distinction based on unjust enrichment. Loans have to be paid back, generally with some interest, so loaning to an entity operating beyond the green line means that the EU could be receiving the benefits of occupation. A grant is just given. So long as the grantee meets competitive criteria, the EU can’t care what the grantee does in its entire operations. Having registration domicile in Israel as recognized internationally is just a minimal condition for eligibility. A grant enables activity, but a loan required payback which can come from resources anywhere garnered by the entity. So the EU can keep clean by restricting loans severely by entity but not grants.

      There is an analogy in the US over State funding of schooling at religious institutions. The USSC has held that so long as State money is not going to religious activity, it ok. Opponents say that even so one is allowing the institution to divert money to religious matters by, say, buying computers funded by the State; the diverted money otherwise might have been used to pay for the computers. The Court has held, in closely split decisions, that the State need only care about how granted money is exactly used; to tell the institution how this ambiguous diverted money (diverted from buying computers, say) can be used (say in meal programs but not religious ceremony) would constitute State interference in religion. So the State can offer the grant for specific action and be done with it, or offer nothing at all. Similarly, the EU can offer grants for activity within the green line or none at all.

      Practically, in the EU case this allows the EU to feel good about itself without riling Israel or the US. Nonetheless, it is mildly retarding to limit grant activity within the green line. Ironically, if one assumes Greater Israel is inevitable, it might be better to allow grants anywhere to augment economic development past the line. Yes, the benefits will go to Israeli settlers and compatriots of various kinds, but greater development should ultimately enhance resident Palestinian opportunity. In this scenario, one must wait for a social economy to develop as the basis for latter civil resistance. All very long term and academic at the moment.

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    2. Unfortunately weak from the start. Also, a typical example of how the minutia of donor policies (distinguishing between loans and grants) often weaken the intent and impact of donor government political objectives.

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    3. Kolumn9

      No Israeli government can accept signing an agreement according to which it gives up claims on the Western Wall. So, given the option to either effectively excluding Israel by insisting on conditions Israel can not possibly meet and cooperating with Israel in areas of science and technology Europe has chosen the latter. No one would have gained from Israel being excluded from the program and it is a good thing that the Europeans are displaying some flexibility in avoiding trying to impose their views on the laws of other sovereign states.

      I wish they would display the same wisdom in avoiding the hostile acts inherent in the support for extreme left-wing organizations in Israel that see it as their mission to fight against the government and people of the state of Israel.

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