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European MPs to Ashton: Make Israel pay for settlements

A total of 114 members of the European Parliament signed and delivered an open letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Thursday to ensure she implements the EU guidelines on Israeli settlements, scheduled to take effect next month, January 2014.

The guidelines stipulate that any Israeli entity that wants to receive funding and loans, participate in a project or compete for grants or awards given by foundations or agencies of the EU will have to submit a statement declaring that they have no direct link to the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights – all territories Israel occupied in 1967 and which the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over.

While it was originally understood that this meant the EU would require Israel to stop all operations beyond the Green Line if it wanted to continue to benefit from cooperation, it became clear that the guidelines are trying to make sure that specific European grants and prizes are not part of projects in the occupied territories.

Click here for everything you need to know about the EU guidelines

Since the guidelines were announced in July, Israeli government officials have been scrambling to combat the effort, negotiating with EU representatives to try and find a “compromise” – essentially a way to get around the restrictions. Israel is specifically concerned about its ability to join the Horizon 2020 program – an $80 billion research program that just passed in European Parliament today (Thursday) –  that would provide Israeli institutions with around 600 million euro over the next seven years  for various technology and research projects.

As Noam Sheizaf reported here last month, Israel is trying to find a way so that as long as an Israeli entity is headquartered behind the Green Line, it will still get EU funding, even if it has operations in the occupied West Bank. This is exactly what the EU members who signed on to this letter are trying to prevent.

According to an adviser in the EU parliament who prefers to remain nameless, Israeli negotiators have already succeeded in removing any mention of the guidelines in the Memorandum of Understanding being negotiated right now, potentially undermining the entire purpose of the guidelines.

“If EU funds end up in settlements, the EU loses. Plain and simple. If Israel manages to continue business as usual despite the guidelines and settlements continue to receive EU funds, then EU leaders look very weak. Yet again.”

Here is a portion of the letter sent today to Ashton (the full letter is below):

Dear High Representative,

We are writing to call your attention to certain serious concerns regarding the arrangements about to be concluded that will determine the terms of Israel’s participation in a range of EU programmes, including Horizon 2020. We wish to call on you to take the steps that remain necessary to ensure that no form of EU-funded support is provided to Israeli entities established in the settlements, which are illegal under international law, or to activities or operations of Israeli entities taking place in those settlements under any of these programmes.

As an ENP country, Israel is entitled to participate in a range of EU programmes, including Horizon 2020. The Guidelines published by the Commission on 19th July 2013 should apply to all these programmes, current and future.

In all cases, the EU must respect its own positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the Union of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since June 1967. In all cases, no EU-funded support of any kind may be provided to Israeli entities established in Israeli settlements or to settlement-based activities. (Emphasis mine).

MEP Margrete Auken, a member of the Greens in in the EP and vice-chair of the Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, described the impetus for the letter to +972: “When we noticed the potential legal loophole we decided to send an open letter to Catherine Ashton who must take action to ensure that EU funds don’t end up in settlements.

“Israeli negotiators are tough and clever, said Auken, “and Catherine Ashton needs to know she has the support from the European Parliament to hold her own and stay alert. The world community again and again declares Israeli settlements illegal. Now we need action behind the words so Israel feels the consequences of breaking international law time and again.”

In effect, these members of parliament are asking the EU to simply follow through on a policy that has been their formal position for decades – just like the U.S.

Read the full letter:

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    1. CigarButNoNice

      One day, all the stooges and lackeys of Arab imperialism will be brought to justice. All who support the illegal Arab colonization of the Land of Israel, which belongs to the Jewish nation just as Hellas belongs to the Greeks, will be made to pay for their propping up of the Arab settlement project involving the daily stealing of Jewish land.

      No justice, no peace. Justice requires the Arab colonial settlers evacuate all their illegal holdings on the Land of Israel in favor of their only rightful owners, the Jews. Until that moral requirement is met, there will be no prospect for a just and viable peace agreement in the region. The injustice of Arab colonialism cannot stand.

      Reply to Comment
      • un2here

        Judaism is a religion. Arabic is a language. You are confused.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          Yeah, it should be written “Sunni Arab” but not “Arab”.

          Reply to Comment
      • A zionist reversing the facts to support his racism, ethnocentrism, and colonialism?

        Will wonders ever cease?

        Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        Are you joking?
        You’re not joking are you?
        You’re serious!
        Oh my God.

        Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        Cigar, what would you say are the borders of The Land Of Israel?

        Reply to Comment
      • JG

        You shouldn’t smoke those crappy drug Cigars…..

        Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      114 out of 766 EP members won’t ensure Ashton does anything, but might just jolt her into remembering that empty threats don’t achieve anything except a whole series of them.

      Cop-outs don’t enhance Europe’s credibility on the international stage, or impress its voters at home. Hint: next European Parliament election takes place in spring 2014.

      Reply to Comment
    3. The Trespasser

      So, few facts to begin with…

      1) There are 766 members in the Europarliament.

      2) Major part of the issue is Horizon 2020 project
      “Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Running from 2014 to 2020 with a budget of just over €70 billion, the EU’s new programme for research and innovation is part of the drive to create new growth and jobs in Europe.”

      3) There are 22 more non-EU countries, including China (Tibet and Xinjiang), India (Kashmir) and Russia (Abkhazia and S. Ossetia).

      4) There are 114 EPMs who are demanding that EU shoud hold to its position that territories beyond 1967 lines are occupied, while there is not even one EPM who would demand the same for all countries.


      This one is the best of all:
      5) Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz newspaper, writes that “Israel, the only non-European country that has been asked to join Horizon 2020…”

      If anyone ever had any doubts regarding the credibility of Haaretz, now there are none…

      These guidelines are anti-semitic and anti-Israeli in their nature and I’m surprised that EU had accepted them instead of, for example, forcing Israel and Palestine to work on a project or two. So much for peacemaking.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Kolumn9

      I can’t wait for these jokers to be replaced by people that wish to eliminate the EU as an entity or to cut it down to its proper proportions. Not because I have anything in particular against Europe, but because people like these seek to create a unified aggressive European foreign policy on the basis of singling out the Jewish State of Israel for condemnation and scorn. The reason why this is seen as anti-Semitic is because it is in many ways similar to the way that nationalists in many European countries in the past built their own national identities on the basis of excluding and persecuting Jews. Interestingly the same people would never dare to, in the interest of political correctness and political expediency, take an aggressive stance against the various Arab and Muslim states when those are persecuting or massacring their own people. Because that would be too much European interference in the affairs of non-Europeans!

      Reply to Comment
    5. Laurent Szyster

      Big deal.

      Really, jewish settlers must be shaking in their boots now that 114 MEPs have sent that letter to Catherine Ashton.

      I mean, we all saw how those fearless and principled MEPs successfully confronted Turkey about Cyprus, China over Tibet and Morroco on Western Sahara.

      Oh, they did not ?

      Reply to Comment