Peace Not Walls

Articles, stories, photos and video about keeping faith in the Holy Land and creating a peaceful, just environment where all humans can flourish.

New European Union guidelines ban EU funding for Israeli projects in the Occupied PalestinianTerritories

Posted on July 17, 2013 by Julie Brenton Rowe

The European Union has announced that it will no longer fund Israeli projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which are slated to become a Palestinian state.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, any Israeli entity seeking funding from or cooperation with the European Union will have to submit a declaration stating that the entity has no direct or indirect links to the West BankEast Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

claireshouse2

Although everything you see here is in the West Bank, the Israeli separation wall near Bethlehem claims all of the territory to the right of the wall, confiscating olive groves and the settlement on the hill into the “Israeli” side of the wall and allowing no room for growth on the Palestinian side.

 

The guidelines, which condition all future agreements on Jerusalem’s acknowledgement that its occupied territories are not part of Israel, have strained relations with the EU to an unprecedented level.

This is a key development in the long-drawn-out saga of Israel and Palestine because now EU policy officially recognizes that these territories are not a legitimate part of Israel, upholding international law, UN resolutions and the basis of the Oslo Peace Process.

Israel disputes that this settlement is against international law.

Israeli minister Silvan Shalom said this measure was a “big mistake” which cast doubt on the EU’s impartiality in the Israel-Palestinian conflict:

Europeans are making a big mistake once again. They always would like to play a key role in the peace process but once again they are showing us that they cannot play a key role because they don’t have a balanced attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Oslo Peace accord, which Israelis and Palestinians signed, designated the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as the future Palestinian state, which was supposed to have been created by 1999. In this agreement, both parties agreed that they would do nothing to alter the conditions or status of these areas.  Since that time, the settlement population has more than doubled and, according to a UN report on construction planning in parts of the West Bank, Palestinian construction has been effectively prohibited in over 40% of the West Bank, where the land has been largely designated for the use of Israeli settlements or the Israeli military.

Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the EU announcement as a “significant move”:

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.

B'Tselem Map of The West Bank, June 2011

One Response to 'New European Union guidelines ban EU funding for Israeli projects in the Occupied PalestinianTerritories'

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  1. Kathleen Rusnak said,

    on July 18th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    PA official: EU Judea and Samaria guidelines harm Palestinians
    PA officials approach EU, saying that Palestinian laborers are going to lose their livelihoods as a result of the decision to exclude settlement enterprises from future cooperative agreements • Leading manufacturer calls move illegitimate and harmful.

    Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana and Hezi Sternlicht

    Palestinian laborers want to work | Photo credit: Aryeh Tadmor

    A senior Palestinian Authority official confirmed to Israel Hayom on Tuesday that many in Ramallah were dissatisfied with the European Union’s decision to withhold economic grants and incentives to Israeli companies situated in Judea and Samaria.

    “For our part, we approached a number of [European] Union officials, in the [Palestinian] Authority and also in Israel, to try and prevent the decision or at least to keep it unofficial,” said the official, who declined to give his name. “It’s not just Israeli companies that are going to be hit economically, it’s also going to be disastrous economically and socially for the Palestinian community.”

    According to the Palestinian official, the European move will freeze joint projects, force employers to stop hiring Palestinians to work on joint projects with Israelis and lead to widespread layoffs of Palestinians laborers working in Judea and Samaria industrial zones.

    Sammer Darawsha, who works in a hothouse that is a part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian agricultural project funded by members of the EU and situated near the Halamish settlement, said the decision will “affect everyone, whether Jew or Palestinian. If they take away our livelihoods and food, exactly what kind of peace will be here?”

    Several manufacturers and exporters were concerned by the EU directive — which prevents the EU from giving grants to Israeli enterprises beyond the pre-1967 borders — estimating that the decision could cause tens of millions of euros in damages.

    According to the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, the EU constitutes Israel’s most lucrative trade zone, and is the destination for a third of all Israeli goods. Trade with the EU in 2012 amounted to $36.6 billion. Israel imported $22.4 billion worth of goods from the EU that same year.

    A top manufacturer warned that “blending politics and business results in a bad mixture, we have had bitter experience with it in the past. There’s a sense that Europe is trying to harm the freedom of trade illegitimately.”

    “It must be understood that the Arab side is also going to be harmed by this directive. Indeed, a generous portion of the labor in Judea and Samaria is Palestinian,” a veteran businessman said on Tuesday.

    Ramzi Gabai, the director of the export institute, said that “there’s no room to mix political and economic issues.”

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