Published On: Tue, Jan 19th, 2016

EU: Agreements with Israel only apply within 1967 borders

The European Union has approved a decision to explicitly exclude West Bank settlements from any agreements with Israel.

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The European Union approved its resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israeli settlements Monday, in which the bloc reiterated its existing policy concerning products produced in Israeli settlements and agreements between member states and Israel.

The resolution confirms that the EU considers Israel’s borders to end at the 1967 Green Line, and that therefore any arrangements made between Israel and member countries will not apply to settlements.

“The EU and its Member States are committed to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products, ” the resolution reads. adding that “the EU expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”

The EU stressed that “this does not constitute a boycott of Israel which the EU strongly opposes.”

In the decision, the ministers also noted their objection to incitement and called on both sides to address the issue. They asked both sides to avoid any steps that could lower the likelihood of a two-state solution and reemphasized that Europe supports intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the holding of new democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority.


Settlement labels

Last November, the EU approved new labeling directives for settlement-made goods – a technical decision taken by Brussels which was seen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an act of unacceptable discrimination.

“The European Commission adopted this morning a document determining the status of products from territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, ” said an official source at the EU.

The guidelines on the labeling of settlement-made goods will apply to fresh produce, wine, honey, olive oil, eggs, poultry, organic goods, and cosmetic products. Products excluded from the labeling include packaged food items and non-cosmetic industrial products.

The directives will affect less than one percent of EU-Israel trade – which stands at €30 billion, of which Israeli exports to EU countries account for €13 billion.

In response to the resolution, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement in which it said that “following intense diplomatic effort by the PM and the foreign ministry, the EU softened its resolution. However the EU continues to treat Israel with a double standard, while totally ignoring the Palestinian Authority’s responsibility to the stalemate and to incitement which feeds Palestinian terror.”

“Out of 200 territorial conflicts in the world, the EU singles out and discriminates against Israel. this approach prevents the EU from playing a fair role in settling the conflict, ” it continued.

Leader of the opposition and head of the Zionist Union party, Isaac Herzog, said that “it is unfortunate that the EU is helping BDS. That is the meaning of the decision they made tonight. They are not differentiating the legitimate settlement blocs and isolate settlements and that is wrong, ” adding that “the sad thing is that Netanyahu’s failed foreign policy has contributed to that, angering European countries.

Relations have been strained between Israel and the EU following the bloc’s publishing of guidelines on the labeling of products from Jewish settlements last November. Following the EU decision, Israel suspended a number of dialogue meetings with European officials, mainly regarding Palestinian projects and EU projects in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank.

The EU has held for many years that a final agreement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be based on a two-state solution, and that Israeli settlements are illegal and undermine peace efforts.

In the resolution, the 28-nation bloc also restated its commitment to a two-state solution and said it would closely monitor developments on the ground which undermine that outcome.

The statement expressed the EU’s deep concern at continuing violence, holding both sides to account for their actions.

“The EU firmly condemns the terror attacks and violence from all sides and in any circumstances, including the death of children, ” it said.

(With AFP and i24 News, by Tal Shalev )

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