Israeli ambassadors to European Union member states warned that EU sanctions currently targeting Jewish communities located over the Green Line may spill over into the rest of Israel within a year, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Tuesday. The comments were made during a conference held recently at Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, according to the paper.
At the recent closed-door meeting of the European Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, senior officials in Jerusalem raised the possibility that EU measures designed to punish Israel for encouraging Jewish population growth over the Green Line, as well as additional measures that are currently frozen, may expand into Israel proper within one to two years, Ma’ariv said. The now frozen measures include the labeling of settlement products, blacklisting Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria who are seeking Visas, and warning European capitals against cooperating with businesses located over the Green Line.
To date, the EU has been seeking to lure Israel into signing a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority by way of rather vague promises to the Jewish State, Ma’ariv reports. However, the Israeli government has been less than impressed by the lack of substantive content in the European Union’s proposals.
Talks between Israeli ambassadors and their EU counterparts revealed that the Europeans have no ideas as to what to offer Israel in return for the nation’s cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, Ma’ariv reported from the conference.
The lack of clarity originating from Europe should “Scare us,” Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said.
As a possible sign of things to come, The Netherlands’ largest pension fund announced earlier this week its decision to cease cooperating with Israeli banks due to their activities in the disputed territories inside of Judea and Samaria. Furthermore, European policy regarding Israel could well become the standard by which other countries deal with the Jewish State, Ma’ariv said.
“The EU creates an atmosphere and mood that encourages boycotts against Israel within the Green Line that will turn Israel into a pariah state,” one senior Israeli official said.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the EU, Oded Eran, who participated in the conference in Jerusalem, strongly criticized the Union, claiming that its efforts to prohibit the financing of any entities operating inside the settlements, should have been conducted as part of ‘quiet discussions’ between the EU and Israel. According to Eran, “Europe is disingenuous when it claims its policies relate only to the territories when in fact they legitimize non-governmental entities’ agenda of ending all cooperation with all of Israel,” Ma’ariv said.
Yet another note of skepticism was struck by outgoing Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry, Ran Curiel, who said at the conference that there isn’t much room for Israeli-EU relations to grow.
In conclusion, Eran and others noted that it is important to come to grips with the European Union’s policies regarding the settlements and to seek to strike a realistic compromise.
According to some conference participants, Israel must “…make a distinction between the settlement issue and Europe’s relationship with us within the Green Line.” These foreign policy officials assert that this is the only way to prevent Israel’s reputation and viability from being further eroded, Ma’ariv said.
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