Heard it through the grapevine
This posting has these items:
1) Barak Ravid: EU official says U.S. quietly supporting settlement sanctions ;
2) Ynet: Guidelines ‘will make Palestinians unrealisitic’, photo caption;
3) Jeffrey Goldberg: Israel Faces Deepening Isolation, Kerry Warns;
4) EJP: Kerry criticizes EU’s decision to boycott Israeli entities beyond the Green line;
All EU member states supported new settlement sanctions, Israeli ambassador was told during meeting on crisis between EU, Israel.
By Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz
August 14, 2013
A senior European Union official told an Israeli diplomat last week that the United States is quietly supporting new EU sanctions against the settlements.
Last month, the European Commission published new guidelines prohibiting EU grants, prizes or funding for any Israeli entity with direct or indirect ties to Jewish communities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Golan Heights. The guidelines also require any new agreement with Israel to include a clause stipulating that these areas aren’t part of the State of Israel, and therefore aren’t covered by the agreement.
Helga Schmid, deputy secretary general (political affairs), European External Action Service
Last week, senior Foreign Ministry officials said, Ambassador to the European Union David Walzer met with Helga Schmid, the deputy secretary general of the European External Action Service and one of EU foreign policy czar Catherine Ashton’s top aides. The meeting dealt with the crisis in EU-Israel relations sparked by the new guidelines.
Walzer told Schmid that Israel won’t participate in the EU’s new research and development program, Horizon 2020, if it is governed by the guidelines as they now stand. Schmid, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official, responded that Israel would be better off not trying to threaten the EU with freezing negotiations over Horizon 2020.
“You should know that we received support for the new guidelines on the settlements from all the European Union’s member states,” the official quoted her as saying. “We’re also receiving tacit support from the American administration.”
The EU mission in Israel declined to comment. The U.S. State Department told Haaretz that this was an EU decision, so all inquiries should be addressed to Brussels.
Previously, American officials have said they weren’t informed in advance about the timing of the publication of the new guidelines – shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, while he was still trying to get both sides to agree to restart the talks. Nevertheless, neither the State Department nor the White House has publicly condemned the EU move.
The only time a senior American official did make a negative comment on the matter was during a closed meeting between Kerry and American Jewish leaders three weeks after the guidelines were published. According to leaks from that meeting, one Jewish leader asked about the EU move, and Kerry responded that it hindered progress on Israeli-Palestinian talks. [See EJP report below]
In contrast, senior State Department officials said that publishing the guidelines just then actually contributed to the effort to restart negotiations. The EU move bolstered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, they said, making it easier for him to agree to hold talks despite Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction. At the same time, it pressured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to the talks by making it clear that if negotiations didn’t resume, Israel’s international isolation would worsen.
Israeli and EU representatives are slated to meet in Jerusalem today to begin negotiations on Horizon 2020. Netanyahu discussed this issue with Ashton a few days ago, and a senior Israeli official said it was a difficult conversation, as both sides entrenched themselves in their own positions.
Netanyahu told Ashton that Israel won’t sign the agreement if it’s based on the guidelines as they currently stand. Ashton replied that the European Union is interested in bolstering cooperation with Israel and is willing to provide clarifications about the new guidelines, but isn’t prepared to alter them.
“Netanyahu and Ashton didn’t even agree to disagree,” the senior official said. “Each of them simply read out his own talking points.”
At today’s meeting, Foreign Ministry officials will reiterate Israel’s refusal to sign the agreement under the guidelines as they stand, and warn that these guidelines not only endanger Israeli participation in Horizon 2020, but all cooperation between Israeli and EU institutions.
Israel is the only non-EU country invited to join Horizon 2020. Participation in the program would give Israeli researchers and companies access to hundreds of millions of euros worth of EU grants.
“I think Europe, the European guidelines by the EU, have actually undermined peace,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle [above, L]….The guidelines “have hardened Palestinian positions,” Netanyahu said. “They seek an unrealistic end that everybody knows is not going to happen, and I think they stand in the way of reaching a solution which will only be reached by negotiations by the parties, and not by an external dictate.” From Kerry: US views all settlements as illegitimate by Ynet, August 12, 2013. Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO
By Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg
August 12, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace mission to the Middle East is semi-quixotic, if not wholly quixotic. I doubt he’ll reach his goal of negotiating a final-status agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The two sides haven’t even agreed yet to the topics they’ll discuss in negotiations.
But we should give Kerry this: He has managed to at least partially capture the attention of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. I say partially because the Netanyahu government’s self-destructive West Bank settlement program continues apace (though the latest round of construction is scheduled to take place on territory that would almost certainly be granted to Israel in final-status talks).
There are some early signs that Netanyahu is realizing the price his country may one day pay for its settlements, in particular those near Palestinian population centers. He met recently with some of Israel’s leading manufacturers, who expressed their worry that their products may one day be boycotted in Europe, a worry he shares. Kerry, capitalizing on this anxiety, has warned Netanyahu in recent weeks that if the current peace talks bear no fruit, Israel may soon be facing an international delegitimization campaign — in his words — “on steroids.”
According to officials I have spoken to, who requested anonymity so they could speak freely, Kerry thinks the one thing Netanyahu fears as much as Iran’s nuclear program is the growing power of the international movement that seeks to isolate, scapegoat and demonize his country. (One caveat: Kerry, like most Americans who know Netanyahu, understands that the prime minister’s narrowest but most potent fear is of being unseated.)
Although Netanyahu is worried that the campaign to make Israel appear to be an illegitimate state could hurt the country’s robust economy, he is said to be even more worried that this campaign will erode Israel’s ability to defend itself. The theory is simple: A country seen as illegitimate, not only by the powerful Arab lobby at the United Nations but also by Western powers, will have little standing if it is forced to retaliate against sustained attacks from groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which remain committed to Israel’s extermination. Netanyahu thinks that the campaign to delegitimize Israel could force Western powers to rein in Israel, or at the very least, rush to condemn it before it has the chance to defend itself.
Netanyahu’s two fears are related. Israel will find it increasingly difficult to one day act against the Iranian nuclear program if it is hobbled by the hostility of the international community. For years, I’ve been arguing that Israel would find more sympathy in its campaign against Iranian nukes if it was more willing to compromise with the Palestinians. Netanyahu, unlike other prominent figures on the Israeli right, has agreed in principle to a two-state solution, but he hasn’t done very much to bring it about — he has only grudgingly and temporarily suspended expansions of the settlements located on land that would almost surely be part of the future state of Palestine.
But Netanyahu has lately been leaning in the direction of the Israeli political center. And by doing this he is making the truculent base of his party, the Likud, quite nervous. Netanyahu, I’m told, has taken to disparaging some of the politicians to his right as “insane.” These are the politicians who delude themselves into thinking that their country is a superpower, and can behave as one.
So, when the European Union recently issued guidelines that will restrict its members from (among other things) funding research conducted on the far side of Israel’s 1967 borders, these politicians decided, in their wisdom, that Israel should engage in a partial boycott of the EU. They’re demanding that Israel withdraw from a lucrative EU-sponsored research-funding program to protest the settlement exclusion guidelines. Netanyahu also finds the new EU guidelines reprehensible (and they are, in fact, highly problematic, potentially placing settlers in the far-flung Jewish colonies of the West Bank in the same category as Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City). But he understands that he can’t win a fight with the entire EU if it decides to enact a partial boycott of his country. On the one hand, EU hostility toward Israel isn’t particularly helpful to Kerry or his chief negotiator, Martin Indyk. Threats directed at Israel from Europe, the continent whose cruelty and hatred helped create a need for a Jewish national refuge in the first place, may, in the short term, bolster Israel’s far-right, which could handcuff Netanyahu in negotiations.
On the other hand, the majority of Israelis are sensible, and they know, as Netanyahu knows, that Israel can’t exist in an entirely friendless world. Partly because of the actions of the EU, Netanyahu is listening to Kerry’s warnings with newly open ears.
By Yossi Lempkowicz, European Jewish Press
August 11, 2013
WASHINGTON —US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly criticized the European Union’s recent decision to issue new guidelines boycotting Israeli entities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, at a meeting with American Jewish leaders last Thursday at the White House.
Using force and pressure will not help matters, Kerry was reported as saying, saying the new EU guidelines are the sort of move that could nudge away Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Instead, the international community can promote peace by dealing with Israel’s fears for its security, he said.
During the meeting, aimed at looking for support on the US push for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry read a prepared speech in which he told the heads of Jewish organizations that peace was a “strategic imperative” and that time was running out.
Kerry , who was accompanied by his special Mideasd envoy Martin Indyk and National Security adviser Susan Rice, updated the Jewish leaders on the resumption of Israel-Palestinian talks and hear their concerns.
According to people familiar with Thursday’s meeting, Kerry outlined a five-track approach for the negotiations with the Israelis and Palestinians: security, economics, international outreach, public outreach, and direct talks between the parties.
Some Jewish leaders asked Kerry to push Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to tone down his anti-Israel statements and to urge him to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Present at the meeting, were leaders from the Conservative movement, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), J Street, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Conservative movement, the Orthodox Union, American Friends of Lubavitch, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North America, Hadassah, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Talks between Israel and the Palestinians restarted last month in Washington for the first time since almost three years. They will continue on Wednesday in Jerusalem and later in Jericho.