EU Threatens to Blame Israel if Talks Fail

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -

The EU said Tuesday it has warned Israel against any new construction over the Green Line following an upcoming Palestinian prisoner release, saying it will be held responsible for any resulting failure of the ongoing peace talks.

The EU said that if the peace talks collapse following another such announcement when a third set of prisoners is released late this month, Israel would be to blame. The Palestinians nearly walked out on the talks over the last announcement of new construction.

“If these talks fail because of a new [construction] announcement, Israel risks having a finger pointed at it,” said Eyal Inbar, the EU’s acting spokesman in Israel.

Inbar said that the EU message was delivered to the director of Israel’s foreign ministry on Monday. Yigal Palmor, a foreign minister spokesman, declined to comment on the private discussions.

In another threat meant to spur the sides toward a deal, an EU official said Europe would tell the Palestinians on Tuesday it would cut aid off to the PA, which relies on donor funding to function. But such a move would hurt Israel more than the Palestinians, since it would leave Israel responsible for the fate of some 2.5 million Palestinians living under their control.

“If there is no deal, the EU cannot fund the Israeli occupation anymore. Israel needs to be responsible for its occupation. This means no more EU money to the PA,” said the official, who requested anonymity because he was discussing private diplomatic matters. The official did not say when the funds might be cut off, and it was not clear how concrete the threat was.