Letter signed by 15 former EU leaders counters attempts by Israel and U.S. to scrap or delay the move to stop co-operating with firms in the settlements.
By Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz
September 16, 2013
A group of 15 former senior European officials has urged the European Union not to soften or delay new settlement guidelines slated to take effect on January 1, and in particular to ensure they apply to the Horizon 2020 scientific cooperation program.
The letter, dated September 16, was sent to all EU foreign ministers by the European Eminent Persons Group, whose stated goal is promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace. The group is co-chaired by former French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, former German Deputy Foreign Minister Wolfgang Ischinger and former British Ambassador to the UN Jeremy Greenstock.
Its more prominent members include Javier Solana, who formerly served as EU foreign policy czar and NATO secretary-general, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the former European commissioner for external relations and Austrian foreign minister, former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton, former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas Van Agt and former Dutch Foreign Minister Hans Van den Broek.
One particularly noteworthy signatory is former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, who is considered relatively close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was granted a meeting with the premier when he visited Israel a few weeks ago.
“With great concern we have taken note of recent calls to delay, modify or even suspend the European Commission guidelines on funding of Israeli entities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967,” the letter began. “We urge you to uphold this commitment by supporting the guidelines and their full application by EU institutions, notably in regard to the ongoing negotiations about Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020.”
After noting that the guidelines reflect a longstanding EU position that the settlements are illegal under international law, the letter continued, “Their strict application serves to reiterate that the EU does not recognize and will not support settlements and other illegal facts on the ground … It is these facts on the ground, not the guidelines, which threaten to make a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.”
The letter also argued that the guidelines’ publication in mid-July encouraged the Palestinians to agree to resume direct negotiations with Israel two weeks later. “If the EU were to delay or suspend the guidelines, or not fully apply them to the agreement with Israel on Horizon 2020, this could further undermine the Palestinians’ trust in the negotiation process and their ability to continue the talks,” it said. “In other words, delaying or suspending the guidelines is likely to undermine negotiations, not help them.”
Finally, it argued, the guidelines are the “minimum” the EU can do to uphold its own legislation and keep taxpayer funds from going to the settlements, so delaying or suspending them would “damage the EU’s credibility.”
The letter was written to assist the Palestinians’ counter-campaign against Israeli and American efforts to get the guidelines softened or delayed. Last week, United States Secretary of State John Kerry asked EU foreign ministers to delay implementing the guidelines so as not to undermine Israeli-Palestinian talks.
The guidelines forbid any EU grants, loans or prizes to activities of Israeli entities in the West Bank, Golan Heights, or East Jerusalem. In some cases, the guidelines forbid financing Israeli entities that operate directly and indirectly beyond the 1967 lines. They also require any new agreement with Israel to state that these areas aren’t part of Israel, and therefore aren’t covered by the agreement.
Israel’s immediate concern is its current negotiations with the EU over participating in Horizon 2020. Participation would give Israeli researchers access to hundreds of millions of euros worth of funding. But Israel has said it can’t sign the agreement under the guidelines as they stand.
European Co-ordination Committee for Palestine (ECCP)
September 16, 2013
More than 600 Israeli intellectuals, senior academics and leading artists send a petition to President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Catherine Ashton in support of the European Union guidelines that exclude funding of Israeli entities active in the occupied territories.
Signatories of the petition include seven Israel Prize laureates (Dani Karavan, Alex Levac, David Tartakover, Shimon Sandbank, Zeev Sternhell, Yehoshua Kolodny and David Harel), as well as playwright Yehoshua Sobol, former Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Alon Liel and former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair.
Israeli petition in support of EU guidelines on funding of Israeli entities
We the undersigned support the European Union recommendation to its member states, to avoid signing agreements with Israeli organizations and companies if they are active, directly or indirectly, in the occupied territories over the green line of June 4, 1967.
We regard this EU announcement as an act of friendship and support to the state of Israel in its recognized borders. We believe that this decision will contribute to the strengthening of relations between Israel and European states.
If that decision will be fully implemented, it will accelerate the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and will increase the chances to bring both sides to the negotiating table towards an agreement that will include recognition of the green line as the basis for drawing the political border between Israel and Palestine, even if there will be small, mutually agreed modifications to it.
We hope that this decision will be implemented as soon as possible by all European states, and will convince other countries such as US, Russia, China and India to accept and join the European initiative.
We call upon the government of Israel to avoid any activities and reactions that might harm our relations with Europe, as well as to block its financial support and its activity over the green line, for the sake of all Israeli citizens.
Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal, Tel Aviv University
Ilan Baruch, former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa
Ofra Ben-Artzi, sister-in-law of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Michael Ben-Yair, former Attorney General
Brigadier General Shlomo Brom, former head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division. Currently serves as a senior research associate at the Institute of National Security
Prof. David Enoch, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Member of the Israeli Young Academy
Prof. Emeritus Yaron Ezrahi, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Prof. Chaim Gans, Tel Aviv University
Ilana Hammerman, literary editor and translator
Prof. Alon Harel, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Prof. David Harel, the Weizmann Institute. Recipient of the Israel Prize in 2004 & the Emet prize in 2010
Prof. Eva Illouz, President of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem
Dani Karavan, sculptor. Recipient of the Israel Prize in 1977
Prof. Menachem Klein, Bar-Ilan University
Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Recipient of the Israel Prize in 2010
Miki Kratsman, Head of Photography Department of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Recipient Emet prize in 2010
Dr. Alon Liel, former Director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry
Mossi Raz, former Meretz Parliament Member
Prof. Ishay Rosen-Zvi, Tel Aviv University. Member of the Israeli Young Academy
Shimon Sandbank, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Recipient of the Israel Prize in 1996
Uri Segal, conductor
Yehoshua Sobol, playwright and author
Prof. Emeritus Zeev Sternhell, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Recipient of the Israel Prize in 2008
David Tartakover, graphic designer and artist. Recipient of the Israel Prize in 2002
Prof. Idit Zartal, historian
Prof. Moshe Zimmermann, Tel Aviv University
And more than 600 others
European Council on Foreign Relations
September 15, 2013
Following calls to postpone, modify or even suspend the new European Commission guidelines on the funding of Israeli businesses and institutions in the occupied territories, a group of European dignitaries has sent a letter to the 28 EU Foreign Ministers, urging them to fully support European institutions in implementing guidelines that exclude Israel’s illegal settlements from EU funding.
The letter has been signed by 12  prominent Europeans – amongst them two former Foreign Ministers, three former Prime Ministers, one former Vice-President of the European Commission and one former EU High Representative – from 9 European countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Ireland.
The signatories stress that the guidelines reflect the EU’s long-held position that the European Union will not recognize unilateral changes to Israel’s pre-1967 borders and that the EU, under its own legislation, is obligated to prevent the application of agreements with Israel to illegal settlements.
The statement’s signatories call on the 28 Foreign Ministers to uphold their joint commitment, proclaimed in December 2012, to ensure that all agreements between Israel and the EU “must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability” to the occupied territories, also and especially in regard to the ongoing negotiations about Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020, the EU’s research funding programme. Also, the signatories argue that a delay or suspension of the guidelines would undermine peace negotiations, which they want to see succeed.
The letter is posted below and was sent in the context of the European Eminent Persons Group (EEPG), composed of former Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and senior officials of EU Member States, who have decided to concert their efforts to encourage a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Dear Foreign Minister,
With great concern we have taken note of recent calls to delay, modify or even suspend the European Commission guidelines on funding of Israeli entities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, developed in furtherance of the clear EU Foreign Affairs Council position adopted on 10 December 2012:
“The European Union expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the European Union must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”
We urge you to uphold this commitment by supporting the guidelines and their full application by EU institutions, notably in regard to the on-going negotiations about Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020.
In recent weeks, Israel has expressed strong objections to the guidelines. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said: “We will not accept any external dictates regarding our borders.” This both misrepresents the EU position and the international legal consensus regarding the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As EU High Representative Catherine Ashton stated, in no way will the guidelines prejudge the outcome of peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
The guidelines rather reflect the EU’s long-held position that the settlements are illegal and that the Union will not recognize changes to the pre-1967 borders other than agreed by both parties. Their strict application serves to re-iterate that the EU does not recognize and will not support settlements and other illegal facts on the ground that increasingly dictate a unilateral reality inimical to a two state agreement. It is these facts on the ground, not the guidelines, which threaten to make a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.
The Palestinians have agreed to enter negotiations without explicit Israeli or US guarantees that these negotiations will be based on the pre-1967 borders. As you will recall, the guidelines’ release in mid-July was an important incentive for the Palestinians to agree to a resumption of direct talks without such explicit guarantees. If the EU were to delay or suspend the guidelines, or not fully apply them to the agreement with Israel on Horizon 2020, this could further undermine the Palestinians’ trust in the negotiation process and their ability to continue the talks. In other words, delaying or suspending the guidelines is likely to undermine negotiations, which we want to see succeed, not help them.
Furthermore, political considerations aside, the EU is obligated under its own existing law to effectively prevent the application of its agreements and programmes to illegal settlements outside Israel’s recognised borders. In fact, the guidelines are the required minimum for the EU to fully and effectively implement its own legislation and to prevent its taxpayers’ money from being used to support activities in settlements.
We welcome your efforts in the Middle East Peace Process and fully support the EU’s goal of a negotiated two-state solution. A delay or suspension of the guidelines won’t help achieve this solution. On the contrary, it would undermine the negotiations by alienating the Palestinians and by reinforcing Israel’s intransigence. In addition, it would damage the EU’s credibility and erode its vital foundations as a law-based community.
We urge you to be steadfast and support EU institutions in fully applying the guidelines.
Members of the European Eminent Persons Group:
Frans Andriessen, former Vice-President of the European Commission
Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, former Vice-Prime Minister of the Netherlands
John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, former European Commissioner for External Relations and Former Foreign Minister of Austria
Jeremy Greenstock, former UK Ambassador to the UN; Co-Chair of the EEPG
Teresa Patricio Gouveia, Former Foreign Minister of Portugal
Wolfgang Ischinger, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany and current Chairman of the Munich Security Conference; Co-Chair of the EEPG
Miguel Moratinos, former Foreign Minister of Spain and former EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process
Pierre Schori, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Sweden
Clare Short, former UK Secretary of State for International Development
Javier Solana, former EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and Former NATO Secretary-General
Peter Sutherland, former EU Commissioner for Competition and former Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Andreas Van Agt, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Hans Van den Broek, former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and Former EU Commissioner for External Relations
Hubert Védrine, former Foreign Minister of France; Co-Chair of the EEPG
Notes and Links
Neither the ECFR, which published the letter from the European Eminent Persons Group, nor the EEPG is a formal EU institution. However the two groups have a close relationship with each other and both direct much of their work towards influencing the policy of the European Commission in particular and the European Union more widely.
Most European countries, including Turkey, have members on the ECFR. Those not included are Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and most of the former Yugoslavia except for Croatia and Slovenia.
About the European Council on Foreign Relations
From ECFR website
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is the first pan-European think-tank. Launched in October 2007, its objective is to conduct research and promote informed debate across Europe on the development of coherent and effective European values-based foreign policy. It is independent and has no connection to the institutions of the EU. See below for information about its various sources of funding.
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