Light at the End of the Tunnel on EU Ban

YERUSHALAYIM -

There are indications that negotiations between the European Union and Israel over its new guidelines banning economic cooperation with entities over the Green Line will yield a softening of the EU position that will enable Israel’s participation in the lucrative Horizon 2020 project.

Andreas Reinicke, the EU’s Middle East envoy, has told The Jerusalem Post that he is “confident” of crafting a formula that will preserve Israeli-EU cooperation.

An Israeli official was quoted as saying that while it was not realistic to seek a reversal of the ban, the way forward is to agree on interpretation of its language, which he said is ambiguous enough to allow interpretation either “strictly” or “leniently.”

The official concurred with Reinicke’s optimistic outlook on the issue, especially in light of the fact that numerous European governments have made clear their desire for a resolution such that continued Israeli participation in EU projects will be possible.

The two sides must work out an agreement before a late November deadline in order for Israel to be able to take part in Horizon 2020.

Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Reinicke said the EU — which took part last week in a meeting of the Middle East Quartet in New York — was “pleased with the apparent seriousness of the discussions, and with the declared aim to come to a permanent status settlement to end the conflict.”

Asked whether, as Livni has maintained, the start of the negotiations has itself enhanced Israel’s standing in Europe, Reinicke said that “for the moment people respect and recognize that something serious is going on. Obviously we know that at a certain point in time, decisions will have to be taken. People will not be happy just with a negotiating process, it has to lead to results.”