Angry response to EU from Israeli right wing

July 17, 2013
Sarah Benton

This posting has these items:
1) Barak Ravid: How the EU caught Israel off guard with its new settlement guidelines;
2) NY Times: Israel Condemns New European Union Rules on Territory Seized in 1967 War;
3) JPost: Settler leaders: Israel should ban EU projects in Area C;
4) Ynet news: Israel in damage control mode after EU decision;
5) Ma’an news: Ashrawi praises ‘significant’ EU directive on settlements;
6) Shimon Shiffer: European ban demands historic decisions from Netanyahu, not another belligerent statement;
7) Ma’an news: Fatah in Europe welcomes EU directive on settlements;

Israel’s ambassador to the EU, David Walzer (L) with President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. Mr. Walzer was the first Israeli to be informed of the European Commission’s guidelines.

How the EU caught Israel off guard with its new settlement guidelines

New guidelines conditioning future EU agreements with Israel on recognition of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan as occupied territories reached the Foreign Ministry 10 days ago, but caught most cabinet ministers by surprise.

By Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz
July 17, 2013

A senior Israeli official Tuesday described new guidelines conditioning future EU agreements with Israel on the latter’s recognition of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as occupied territories as an “earthquake.”

The guidelines, which were drawn up by the European Commission, are expected to be officially released on Friday. Haaretz revealed Tuesday that the document was circulated among all the EU institutions, foundations, investment funds and aid organizations two weeks ago, as well as to all 28 EU member states. They go into effect on January 1.

In a scathing response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will not accept any external edicts on our borders.” Most cabinet ministers were caught by surprise. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called the decision an “economic terror attack.” Finance Minister Yair Lapid said it was “unfortunate and badly timed,” adding, “every day that Israel is not in talks harms its international status even further.” Meanwhile, opposition chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich called for an immediate resumption of talks.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said that the information on EU plans to issue new guidelines reached the ministry 10 days ago, when the head of the Middle East Branch of the EU External Action Service, Christian Berger, called Israel’s ambassador to the EU David Walzer, informed him of the move and suggested conducting talks on the matter before July 19, this Friday. This is when the guidelines are meant to be officially published.

Walzer reported the news to the Foreign Ministry and diplomatic contacts were launched to try to understand the significance of the move and the specifics of the guidelines.

After the report was published, a high-ranking U.S. administration official involved in attempts to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians warned that if Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to restart talks were to fail, the EU countries would take additional measures against the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“The Europeans are giving us time to complete the efforts to resume the talks,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But if we don’t succeed, they’ll want to go in other directions and take measures. The Israelis know that very well.”

A Foreign Ministry source said that the initial information from the EU ambassador spoke of guidelines that would insert a “territorial clause” into agreements that would obligate Israel to recognize that it is not sovereign in the territories over the Green Line. “But they’ve said that before, and we didn’t know exactly what was meant,” the official said.

Only a week later did the seriousness of the situation become clear to Israeli diplomats. On Monday morning a preliminary document outlining the ramifications of the new guidelines landed on the desk of Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin, and it turned out that the guidelines were much more detailed and of practical significance than had been assessed at first.

After reading the document, Elkin immediately sent it to Netanyahu. According to the senior Foreign Ministry official, Netanyahu was shocked.

“Only three weeks before he had met with EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, and she didn’t say a word about the move,” the official said. “In retrospect, it’s not clear to what degree Ashton herself even knew about it.”

The official added that Netanyahu was particularly surprised because Ashton had agreed to Netanyahu’s request to avoid issuing an EU foreign ministers’ declaration at the end of June on the peace process so as not to jeopardize Kerry’s efforts to restart the peace talks.

“We think that this move [the guidelines] is the result of work by the EU bureaucrats that was done under the radar of the diplomatic officials,” the Foreign Ministry official said.

Emergency meeting

Elkin told Netanyahu that he intended to hold a meeting on the subject on Wednesday morning, but after Tuesday’s report appeared in Haaretz, Netanyahu decided to hold an emergency meeting Tuesday night at his office. Experts from the Foreign Ministry, the Economy Ministry and the Justice Ministry attended, together with Ministers Bennett and Livni, and Deputy Minister Elkin.

Two high-ranking officials who were present told Haaretz that during the discussion, the ministries’ representatives said that at this stage there was no way to give a precise estimate of the economic damage that the state and private Israeli companies might suffer. Still, all the professionals who attended the meeting said that if the guidelines go into effect, their ramifications could have extremely severe and damaging ramifications for the economy, academia, culture, sports and many other areas.

The main problem presented in the meeting was the issue of the indirect connections that Israeli companies, such as banks and large companies, have with the settlements. It is feared that the EU, using the new guidelines, will stop cooperating with banks, supermarkets and large companies in Israel that have branches over the Green Line or that engage in projects in the settlements. Israeli construction and infrastructure companies could suffer the most harm.

Bennett and Elkin took an extremely hard line, calling for a sharp response to the European Union. They suggested that Netanyahu present the EU with an ultimatum: if the guidelines were implemented, Israel would stop the EU from operating in the West Bank, freeze its projects in Area C and not include it in the peace process in any way. Livni said during the meeting that Israel should not take extreme measures that might sabotage Kerry’s efforts. “The only way to neutralize these European measures is to resume the peace process.” Netanyahu also opposed escalation, saying that the affair should be contained. “Don’t forget that we need Europe for sensitive security matters and particularly regarding Iran’s nuclear program,” he told Bennett and Elkin.

The meeting ended with an agreement to try to delay the guidelines’ official publication, expected on January 1. It was decided that Netanyahu would call Ashton and ask her to postpone the publication date from this coming Friday to a later date and begin diplomatic talks on the matter. A high-ranking Foreign Ministry official said that Netanyahu planned to explain to Ashton that if the guidelines were published, he would be under political pressure from within not to make any gestures toward the Palestinians, which would harm the efforts to resume the talks.

Israel Condemns New European Union Rules on Territory Seized in 1967 War

By Jodi Rudoren
July 16, 2013

JERUSALEM — In a move Israeli leaders quickly condemned as undermining Secretary of State John Kerry’s push to revive peace talks, the European Union issued guidelines this week that for the first time ban the financing of and cooperation with Israeli institutions in territory seized during the 1967 war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday evening in a defiant statement that he would “not accept external dictates” on his country’s borders, and that the matter would be “solely resolved in direct negotiations between the sides.” Other senior Israeli ministers denounced the European action as “discriminatory,” “hypocritical” and “unhelpful.”

An American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the diplomatic process, also called the move “unhelpful.”

The guidelines, which are to be published Friday and take effect next year, reflect the increasing tension between Israel and Europe over Jewish settlements in the West Bank that world leaders have long considered illegal, as well as Europe’s efforts to press Israel to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians.

European Union officials played down the significance of the guidelines, which apply only to deals between Israel and the union itself, not its 28 member countries, saying they were simply an act of longstanding opposition to Israeli activities in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Approved on June 28, the guidelines say that agreements providing research grants, scholarships and cultural exchanges must state explicitly that they apply to Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

News of the rules, published Tuesday in an article in the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, came as Mr. Kerry arrived in Jordan for his sixth visit in four months to the region, where he is trying to revive the long-stalled peace talks. They threatened to complicate that mission by appearing at least to buttress the Palestinian insistence that Israel’s 1967 borders be the starting point for negotiations, something Mr. Netanyahu has rejected.

Mr. Kerry had a five-hour dinner on Tuesday with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and planned to meet on Wednesday with King Abdullah II of Jordan and diplomats from the Arab League.

However, Mr. Kerry had no plans to go to Israel before returning to Washington on Thursday. That was seen here as a sign that Mr. Kerry has pushed the Israeli government about as far as it is prepared to go in making concessions and that he is now turning his attention to Mr. Abbas.

While the United States and Europe have long said that the 1967 borders, with minor adjustments, should be the basis of a two-state solution, since March the Obama administration has echoed Israel’s rejection of preconditions.

Daniel Levy, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the guidelines indicated that Europe, after years of criticizing Israeli settlement activity, was putting “its policy where its mouth is.”

“They have become convinced that they need to lean in a little,” Mr. Levy said, “in demonstrating that they are not totally toothless in translating those concerns into action.”

The European Union is Israel’s largest trading partner, with nearly $40 billion of imports and exports in 2011. The guidelines cover only projects financed directly out of the bloc’s next long-term budget, which covers 2014 to 2020; officials said that it was impossible to estimate the projects’ value, but noted that it was not a large sum.

“This is not about money,” said Rosa Balfour, a senior analyst at the European Policy Center, based in Brussels. “It’s about politics.”

Israeli politicians reacted with alarm to the new guidelines. Zeev Elkin, the deputy foreign minister, said that the move would “impede Israeli organizations as a whole, and not only in the territories.”

Yair Lapid, the finance minister, called it “a miserable decision” that “sabotages” Mr. Kerry’s initiative by making Palestinians “believe that Israel will be forced to bow to the diplomatic and economic pressure.”

Uri Ariel, the pro-settlement housing minister, went further, saying the move was racist and “reminiscent of boycotts of the Jews in Europe over 66 years ago.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, welcomed the decision, saying in a statement that Europe “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.”

But a senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding Mr. Kerry’s diplomatic initiative, said Tuesday night that the Europeans were “intentionally or inadvertently undermining” the active American engagement in the peace process that they had been calling for for years.

“Why would any Palestinian leader agree to re-engage if they can get what they want without negotiating?” the official said. “Why enter the give and take of negotiations when you can just take what is offered by international bodies?”

The guidelines come as the European Union continues to debate whether to label products made in West Bank settlements, which some member countries have already done, making it easier to boycott them. Tzipi Livni, the Israeli minister in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians, cautioned in a recent speech that potential boycotts “won’t stop at the settlements” but will spread “to all of Israel” because it is seen as a “colonialist country.”

Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister, said he saw the European move as a “good sign” because it distinguished between pre-1967 Israel and the territories rather than punishing the country as a whole.

“Given the trend and the waves of protest against Israel’s occupation and the call for boycott of the entire state, this distinction is interesting,” Mr. Ben-Ami said. “You delegitimize the occupation, not the state of Israel.”

Europe and Israel have a complex relationship colored by the memory of the Holocaust. Most current European leaders have been strong supporters of Israel and of the creation of a Palestinian state. But with the peace process stalled, public opinion in many countries has turned increasingly critical.

The union’s member countries are deeply divided on some questions dear to Israel — like a decision expected next week on whether to classify Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, as a terrorist group — but “on settlements policy they are quite united,” said Ms. Balfour of the European Policy Center.

Europeans have struggled to find a leadership role in the peace process, and have largely quieted moves to penalize Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians since Mr. Kerry began his push to revive negotiations this spring. The State Department, and many independent experts, believe that if Mr. Kerry’s effort does not yield results soon, Europe will take even harsher measures to isolate Israel.

“The ship is turned, it’s pointed in a certain direction,” said Mr. Levy, the analyst based in London, who lived in Israel and worked on its earlier negotiations with the Palestinians. “It still moves very slowly, but it’s going to be difficult to turn it back.”

Andrew Higgins contributed reporting from Brussels, and Michael R. Gordon from Amman, Jordan.

Settler leaders: Israel should ban EU projects in Area C

By Tovah Lazaroff, JPost
July 16, 2013

The government should ban European Union-funded projects in Area C of the West Bank until the EU rescinds its new policies against areas across the pre- 1967 lines, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday.

“All European projects [for Palestinians] in Judea and Samaria should be stopped until this unilateral decision is rescinded,” the council stated.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head David Perl called on Israel to annex Area C.

“Now is the time for the prime minister to stand up and apply Israeli law on territory that is part of our homeland, and in so doing fix an ongoing historical distortion,” Perl said.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel urged the government immediately to pass the Edmund Levy report, which says that Israel has a right under international law to settle in the West Bank.

“The right answer to the EU is the immediate implementation of the Edmund Levy report to clarify to the Europeans and others that it is not our policy to weaken our legal and historic right to the land,” the forum said.

Settlers were blasting the EU on Tuesday in response to new European Commission guidelines, published on June 30, that Israeli governmental and non-governmental entities over the pre-1967 lines were not eligible for EU grants, prizes or funding. The guidelines followed a December 10 decision by the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which said that all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU were not applicable over the pre-1967 lines.

The EU has consistently refused to recognize Israel beyond the pre- 1967 lines, also known as the Green Line, and as such the move has little pragmatic impact for West Bank settlements and institutions situated there. They were not eligible for EU grants and funding before, and they are still not eligible.

But the EU’s strong policy statement against West Bank settlements, made for the second time in less than a year, has a diplomatic impact on its relationship with Israel, and underscores the extent to which it considers Israeli areas over the pre-1967 lines to be illegal and illegitimate.

In particular, based on the December 10 decision, new language explaining that the EU does not recognize territory over the pre- 1967 lines will now be included in any future agreements with Israel.

The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said it was upset that policy statements about this had become public on Tisha Be’av, the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple 2,000 years ago.

“Europe has not learned from its history. On the ninth of Av, Europe returns to its policy of boycott and separation against the State of Israel,” the council said. It added that this kind of unqualified support for the Palestinian Authority had turned the EU into a non-neutral entity in the West Bank.

Israeli left-wing groups, meanwhile, hailed the EU’s move.

Peace Now, which supports a two-state solution along the pre- 1967 lines, advised Israel to take the move seriously.

“The EU’s decision broadcasts a clear message that the world does not recognize the West Bank settlements, which contradict universal democratic values. Israel’s government is fighting a losing battle against the global understanding that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has to end,” the group said.

“Israel can’t force Israeli and international officials to take part in the settlement enterprise, which goes against a worldview of moral values,” it added.

Gush Shalom said the EU’s position was akin to pouring a bucket of cold water over Israel’s head.

“The EU has started to confront the government of Israel – and every citizen of Israel – with a road sign that cannot be ignored,” Gush Shalom said, adding that one path led to peace and international esteem, and the other to war.

“The time to choose between these two paths is running out,” it said.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomed the move, but said more work was necessary. It called on the EU to penalize any company that worked with the settlements, even if the firms were not located there.

Dani Dayan, who holds a new post as the ambassador for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, hinted on Twitter at the wartime process of “selektzia,” by which Nazi officers would decide which Jews headed for the gas chambers on their arrival at the death camps.

“How will selection be done on youth delegations?” Dayan tweeted.

“A German will say: Tel Aviv to the right, East Jerusalem to the left? Or will it be a Polish job?” The move, he said, was a sign that the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria was growing stronger.

“When we were small, no one bothered. Today we are almost 700,000 Israelis beyond Green Line, so they are bothered. Good deal,” he tweeted.

Ariel Mayor Eliyahu Shviro charged that the new EU guidelines were tantamount to a boycott.

“I’m against boycotts of any kind.

They do not achieve the objective of the boycotters. What [they do] is place more lighter fluid on already existing divisions. But that could be what the initiators of this EU initiative intended,” Shviro said.

“Those who want to bridge differences and unify people can’t use the unacceptable boycott tool,” he added.

Thousands of Palestinians work in factories and businesses in Samaria, the mayor said. It would not occur to anyone to ban them from those jobs because of their religion, belief or place of residence.

Perl called the EU move an “obscene” and “contemptible” decision.

“This kind of blatant interference in the management of a democratic and independent state is unprecedented. It’s time that the EU dealt with its own problems instead of interfering in Israel’s,” he said.

“A two-state solution is delusional and without merit,” he continued.

“Today it is clear that the Palestinians do not want and are not capable of coming to an agreement [with Israel].”

Israel in damage control mode after EU decision

Jerusalem pressing friendly European nations to ask for another discussion on decision exclude bodies from Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem from all agreements. Some cabinet members set on opposing any gestures towards Palestinians

By Attila Somfalvi, Ynet news
July 17, 2013

Israel is officially in damage control mode after the European Union on Tuesday announced it will ban all Israeli bodies operating beyond the Green Line.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping to convince the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to prevent the official publication of a decision to exclude settlements from all agreements signed by the EU and Israel.

Israel is pressing friendly European nations to demand another discussion on the decision in the hopes of preventing it from going into effect. State officials accuse Europe of supporting “Palestinian obstinacy” and “sabotaging the efforts of John Kerry.”

Meanwhile, the government’s right flank is considering asking the prime minister to scrap any plans for gestures towards the Palestinians as part of Kerry’s efforts to restart peace negotiations.

Several ministers have already informed Netanyahu that given the EU’s decision they are now considering launching a public campaign against any gesture towards the PA prior to the resumption of negotiations.

“What the EU did is the act of a bull in a china shop,” said one Likud official. “It presents a problem for Kerry because it hardens the Palestinian position. To date, the Right has been forgiving towards Kerry’s moves and gave the prime minister some leeway without getting in the way, but now there is no reason to let the Palestinians off the hook if the Europeans are going against us anyway.”

The EU’s decision has far reaching consequences for Israel. They will affect bilateral agreements on the “Horizon 2020” R&D program in which Israel was meant to invest some 600 million euros, and the funding of European foundations which allows Israelis to apply for various grants.

The Science and Foreign ministries have concerns that research institutes operating inside Israel will also suffer because of their relations with institutes in Judea and Samaria.

“It’s still not clear what exactly is being banned,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin. “The next stage would be that groups applying for funding would have to pledge not to collaborate with establishments in Judea and Samaria. It’s far reaching.

The EU is also demanding that institutes not have any extensions beyond the Green Line. But any Israeli bank has a branch beyond the Green Line, for instance, and the Hebrew University has dorms in the French Hill.”

Ashrawi praises ‘significant’ EU directive on settlements

By Ma’an news
July 16, 2013

BETHLEHEM — PLO official Hanan Ashrawi on Tuesday welcomed a directive by the European Union which will ban dealings with Israeli settlements and require future contracts to include a clause stating that settlements are not part of the Israeli state.

“We welcome this significant move that calls for all EU projects to be conducted within pre-1967 lines and not in East Jerusalem, the West Bank or Golan Heights,” Ashrawi said.

“This includes the prohibition of funding, cooperation and research funding, among other things, to any individual or institution in the illegal settlements.”

The EU has moved from statements and condemnation “to effective policy decisions and concrete steps which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace,” Ashrawi said.

“The Israeli occupation must be held to account, and Israel must comply with international and humanitarian law and the requirements for justice and peace.”

The Israeli government is more committed to settlements than to peace, the PLO official stressed, adding that international law requires Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders and cease settlement activity.

“It is thus Israel that holds the key to peace; it can either pursue the path of impunity, entitlement, and oppression, or it can relinquish the territories it occupies in 1967 and join the global community as an equal and not as a rogue state.”

The new legislation will go into effect on Friday and builds upon conclusions from the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusion from last year.

It requires a clear distinction to be made in all signed agreements between Israel and the territories it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war — the Golan Heights as well as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

EU spokesman David Kriss told AFP: “These are guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activity in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards.

“It makes a distinction between Israel and the entities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights,” he said.

Israeli officials slam directive

A senior Israeli official was quoted by Haaretz as calling the new ruling an “earthquake,” saying it was the first time such explicit directives have been published by EU bodies.

The Israeli daily reported that the move has created anxiety within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office over the future of Israeli-EU relations.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin told army radio the Europeans had made a “mistake” and that the directive would undermine any return to peace talks with the PLO.

“It’s a very worrying initiative launched at a bad time, because it only reinforces the Palestinians’ refusal to restart negotiations,” he said.

Kriss said the EU wanted Israel to cooperate fully with the directive to ensure its “participation in projects between 2014 and 2020.”

But Elkin told the Haaretz newspaper: “We are not ready to sign on this clause in our agreements with the European Union,” a refusal that could “halt all cooperation in economics… (and) cause severe damage to Israel.”

A high-ranking Israeli official, who requested anonymity, described the European Union’s move as a disproportionate “attack” on Israel.

“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 was “only informed of the directive at the last moment,” he added.

A leader of the Yesha Council — an umbrella group of municipal councils in Jewish settlements in the West Bank — strongly criticized the EU.

“The one-sided and discriminatory EU directive means Europe has effectively decided to abandon any involvement it had in the Middle East peace process,” Dani Dayan said in a statement.

“By aligning itself with the most extreme Palestinian demands… the EU can no longer be perceived as a neutral or objective,” he added.

The PLO has said it will not return to direct talks unless Israel completely halts settlement construction and accepts the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.

Netanyahu has so far categorically rejected outright any return to what he has called”indefensible” lines which existed before June 4, 1967.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in neighboring Jordan later on Tuesday on his sixth visit to the region in as many months in a bid to bridge the differences between the two sides.

Stop the tsunami

European ban demands historic decisions from Netanyahu, not another belligerent statement

By Shimon Shiffer, Op-ed:Ynet news
July 17, 2013

Heads of states in the European Union, it is safe to assume, will not be particularly impressed or frightened by the fiery statements following the decision not to include Israeli communities located beyond the 1967 lines in any future contract with the Union’s 28 member states.

No one in Israel’s political establishment should be surprised. The Europeans have not concealed their position against settlement construction in the territories, the stalemate in the peace process with the Palestinians during Netanyahu’s previous term as prime minister and what they perceive as the loss of any chance to resume negotiations toward an agreement.

A senior European ambassador checked over the past few months to see how many Knesset members actually support the “two states” idea – Israel alongside Palestine – as a reasonable solution to the conflict between the two nations. “I found that no more than two lawmakers in the current Knesset support the idea of two states,” he said. Two MKs. No more.

An EU representative who recently visited Israel asked me why the Israelis are not showing any interest in what is happening to millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. We prefer to live in denial, I replied.

It’s a shame that Netanyahu preferred to respond with belligerent rhetoric that has nothing to back it up. Let’s see how he reacts if the Europeans persist with the implementation of the new guidelines, which may cut the research budgets by hundreds of millions of euros given as aid to the Israeli industry. So what does Netanyahu propose to us? Blood, sweat and tears; a return to the austerity period of Israel’s early statehood.

The writing was on the wall. Foreign Ministry officials warned the government of a deterioration in the relations with the Europeans. Chancellor Merkel tried to convince Netanyahu to show initiative, because if he doesn’t no one will be able to stop the tsunami that is the European attitude toward Israel. In Germany, Israel’s most important friend in Europe, a generation of politicians emerged that refuses to continue to apologize and accept Israel as it is only because of the guilt related to the Holocaust. A new generation is emerging of Europeans who expect us to take the initiative, propose real solutions to the conflict and stop talking about anti-Semitism and about how they supposedly do not have the right to preach morality to us.

In other words, when Obama declared that an agreement with the Palestinians will be based on the 1967 borders, he meant it. If anyone has a different proposal, he should stand up now and present it to the world.

Israel is perceived as the strong side in the conflict with the Palestinians, so the demands from it are comprehensive.

To summarize, the predicament that has been exposed vis-à-vis the Europeans obligates Netanyahu to reach decisions of historic proportions rather than make another statement you would expect from a division manger in an Israeli government office, not from the leader of a country.

Anyone who expects the world to assist him in the effort to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons must heed the world’s demand to operate differently in the territories. “Yitzhar in exchange for Natanz and Fordo,” two nuclear plants in Iran, is not just a slogan; it is an equation that obligates the Israeli side as well.

Fatah in Europe welcomes EU directive on settlements

By Ma’an news
July 17, 2013

BETHLEHEM– Fatah in Europe on Tuesday welcomed European Union guidelines barring the bloc’s 28 member states from funding projects in Israeli settlements.

“We would like to express our happiness and joy at this historic step Europe has taken. It is a very positive development that Israel will be obliged to define its territories,” Fatah spokesman in Europe Jamal Nazzal told Ma’an.

“We hope Israel will abide by this directive,” added Nazzal, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council. He urged Europe to insist on implementing the guidelines.

The guidelines will affect all EU grants, prizes and funding from 2014 onwards, with no further funding available to Israeli entities beyond the 1967 Green Line.

The guidelines require that in all signed agreements with Brussels a clear distinction be made between Israel and the territories it occupied in the 1967 Six-Day war — the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly rejected the directive.

“We shall not accept any external dictates on our borders,” his office quoted him as telling an emergency ministerial meeting. “That is an issue that will be decided only in direct negotiations between the sides.”

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