The French Foreign Ministry has issued a warning to its citizens that investing in Israeli projects over the Green Line entails legal risk, Haaretz reported on Wednesday.
The French statement was not the first of its kind from the European Union, nor will it be the last, as other countries are reportedly preparing similar warnings in the coming days.
An official at the French embassy in Tel Aviv said these are only guidelines and are not legally binding.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor downplayed the development, telling The Times of Israel that it’s nothing new.
“This is a well-known EU position on this particular issue. Here we can see again the deep confusion of the EU policy on this as they appear to be warning their citizens of legal consequences without hinting at the slightest relevant legal reference,” he said.
However, Israel’s Foreign Ministry tried to head off the warnings, instructing emissaries in Europe last week to request they not publish the warnings, according to Haaretz.
An Israeli diplomat was quoted as saying that ambassadors were instructed to say that at present, especially in light of the abduction of the three teens from Gush Etzion, publishing such a warning could further increase tensions between Israel and Europe and cause real damage to the relationship. The French did not respond to the request.
A French diplomat said that the announcement is part of a coordinated effort by the EU’s five biggest members — Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain — to reduce economic cooperation with Israel in Yehudah and Shomron.
Britain and Germany issued similar warnings several months ago.
Dani Dayan, the former head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Yehudah and Shomron said in response that despite the French government’s warnings, thousands of French citizens “live here” and “keep joining us each year. That investment won’t stop.”