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European Union bans funding Jewish settlements
Wednesday July 17, 2013 5:49 PM, IINA

Israeli officials yesterday lashed out at the European Union over new guidelines barring its 28 member states from funding projects in Jewish settlements, including annexed east Jerusalem.

The guidelines were adopted by the European Commission on June 28 and will affect all EU grants, prizes and funding from 2014 onwards, with no further funding available to Israeli entities beyond the 1967 Green Line, officials said.

They will be formally published on Friday.

The move infuriated Israel, with a high-ranking official describing it as an "attack" on the Jewish state.

"When it comes to disputed territories, the Europeans prefer to attack a small country like Israel instead of taking on more powerful states, because they're afraid of retaliation," he said.

Israel, he said, had only been informed about the move "at the last moment."

The new directive, initiated in December 2012 by the EU foreign ministers, is "in conformity with the EU's longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel's sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law," the EU said in a statement.

The directive, to be in effect until 2020, are designed in part to stave-off a general boycott of Israel and to ensure that Israel's participation in EU projects is "not put in question," the EU said.

The aspect which has most angered Israel is the "territorial eligibility" clause which means that from 2014, only territories within the 1967 will be considered eligible for any EU funding.

"This is the first time such an official, explicit directive has been published by the European Union bodies," a senior Israeli official told Haaretz newspaper, describing the move as an "earthquake" with both practical and political significance.

"Until today there were understandings and quiet agreements that the EU does not work beyond the Green Line; now this has become a formal, binding policy.

"From now on, if the Israeli government wants to sign agreements with the European Union (EU) or one of its member states, it will have to recognize in writing that the West Bank settlements are not part of Israel," he said.



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