Israeli efforts to negotiate a softening of the European Union ban on economic cooperation with businesses over the Green Line has met with a pushback from some former EU leaders and senior officials, The Jerusalem Post reported.
They have called on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton not to back down on the new guidelines, even after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked for a delay in their implementation, so as not to disrupt the peace talks.
A letter from the group, which includes former NATO secretary-general and Ashton’s predecessor at the EU Javier Solana and former Spanish foreign minister Angel Moratinos, specifically mentioned that Horizon 2020 — an 80 billion euro R&D project of great value to Israel — should not be exempted from the ban.
Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon charged that the former EU officials are harming the peace process. “Former European officials never cease to amaze,” he said. “They have crossed the line of criticism of the state of Israel. I expect the European leadership to condemn this move.”
The letter also drew a sharp response from European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor, who in a full-page ad in Monday’s Financial Times, accused the EU of blatant discrimination, writing, “From the well over one hundred territorial disputes in the world, the European Union has mandated the creation of a clause in every agreement denying European funding to, and cooperation with, institutions from only one nation involved in a territorial dispute: Israel,” Kantor wrote.
“What makes the situation far worse is that the European Union is abrogating agreements that it signed and witnessed,” he said. “The Oslo Accords, the basis for the peace negotiations, specifically stipulated that the current status of the territories, and its residents, will not be changed or harmed ahead of final status negotiations, to which the parties have recently returned.”