Israeli anger as EU bans funds for West Bank settlements

One official described the measure as 'earthquake' for EU-Israeli relations

Jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has reacted angrily to a new European Union measure that will prohibit member states from agreeing certain measures with Israel without first receiving an assurance that West Bank settlements were excluded from the deal. One Israeli official described the new rule which will come into force on Friday, as an “earthquake” for EU-Israeli relations.

The notice prohibits all 28 EU states from providing any “grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU” that benefits anyone in the settlements. The settlements – effectively villages and towns – are Jewish communities built on what is internationally regarded as Palestinian land. They are considered illegal under international law.

The new regulation requires any new agreement to carry a clause guaranteeing that the settlements are not part of the arrangement, and also apply to the annexed Golan Heights.

Mr Netanyahu, said: “As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights or our united capital, Jerusalem, to be harmed. We will not accept any external diktats about our borders. This matter will settled only in direct negotiations between the parties.”

While many in Israel deny it, the settlements are regarded by EU officials as one of the biggest obstacles to any lasting peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Dani Dayan, who until earlier this year was the chairman of the Yesha Council, which represents settlers, tweeted that, “the one-sided and discriminatory EU directive means Europe had effectively decided to abandon any involvement it had in the peace process.” He added that, “by aligning itself with the most extreme the EU can no longer be perceived as neutral or objective.”

A senior Israeli official, quoted in the liberal Haaretz newspaper, said: “We will have to decide what to do from this day forward. We are not ready to sign on this clause in our agreements with the European Union. We can say this to the Europeans, but the result could be a halt to all cooperation in economics, science, culture, sports and academia. This would cause severe damage to Israel.”

The most significant problem facing Israel is that by entering into agreements that specifically exclude the settlements, the state is effectively recognising that they are not part of the Jewish state, something that would cause consternation among the settler groups and on the Israeli right.

Silvan Shalom, the Israeli government minister for regional development, told Army Radio, that, “Once again, Europe has demonstrated just how detached it is, how it can’t really be a full partner to the negotiations. I remember, as foreign minister, the Europeans argued all the time against America’s leadership, asking why they weren’t full partners in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians. And I always told them, ‘First you need to adopt a more balanced policy’.”

Privately, a number of EU officials have said that their patience with Israel over the settlements is wearing thin and action needed to be taken. In addition to today’s announcement, another debate rages over whether or not to specifically label goods produced in the settlements for export to the EU.

Palestinian officials welcomed the move. In a statement, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, said that the EU had backed its rhetoric with action. “The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace. The Israeli occupation must be held to account, and Israel must comply with international and humanitarian law and the requirements for justice and peace,” she said.

The EU move comes as John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, makes his sixth visit to the region since his appointment earlier this year. Part of his plan to convince the two sides to resume talks, includes assistance for the Palestinian economy. It is understood that he will not visit Israel during this latest visit.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Businessman at desk circa 1950s
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Linux Systems Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of UK Magento hosting so...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Development Manager - North Kent - OTE £19K

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this secondary s...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea