Israel wants to “negotiate” EU sanctions against it
Israel urged the European Union on Friday to undo planned sanctions against it in the occupied West Bank and called for talks, a shift in tone from previous Israeli anger, retaliatory measures and threats.
Under guidelines adopted by the executive European Commission in June, Israeli “entities” operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not be eligible for EU grants, prizes or loans from next year.
The move was deplored by Israel, which has constructed thousands of illegal settlement houses in the West Bank and claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. Neither the settlements nor claims to Jerusalem are recognized internationally.
The right-wing Israeli government responded on July 26 by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians. On Thursday it accused the Europeans of harming so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and said it would not sign new deals with the 28-nation bloc given the planned sanctions.
But Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin backed down a little on Friday, offering to negotiate with the European Union over the guidelines of the sanctions.
“We are ready to hold a creative dialogue with the Europeans. We understand their position. We reject it, we don’t like it, but it’s their right when it comes to using their money,” Elkin told Israel Radio.
A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Aston, Michael Mann, said Brussels was willing to clarify the new guidelines in talks with Israel.
Some 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 2.5 million Palestinians who own the land. Israel snatched those territories, along with the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights, in the 1967 war.
Occupation forces left Gaza in 2005 but has annexed the Golan – another territory affected by the EU move.
Internationally, the settlements are considered illegal.