Published On: Sun, Jun 19th, 2016

EU to vote Monday on resolution backing French peace intiative

French FM to Netanyahu: I know you're against peace initiative, but train has left the station; EU officials tell Rivlin NGO bill could hurt relations with Israel

EU's Foreign Affairs Committee

The European Union is expected to endorse French peace initiative on Monday. Panel of the EU’s 28 foreign ministers, calling for an  international peace conference including Israeli and Palestinian participation during 2016.

“They all agree with us in principle that direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would be preferable, but in practical terms they didn’t really pay attention to our objections and in many states they simply don’t understand our position, ” an Israeli official told Haaretz.

The source added “Also, increasingly more states want to strengthen the French initiative even further, mainly because there’s no other initiative on the table to break the standstill in the peace process.”

According to Haaretz, even countries which usually side favorably with Israel such as Cyprus and Germany, are not opposing the resolution.

Israel now can connect the 2013 to grant Israel special privileged partner status with the EU if Israel was able to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, says Haaretz.

“The Europeans keep setting more conditions to upgrading the relations. So now the French initiative will also become a condition?” said the official to Haaretz. “We won’t be able to exclude the French initiative from the resolution due to be adopted on Monday, but we want to sever the French initiative from the EU’s overall policy as much as possible — especially in everything pertaining to the incentive package Europe has proposed to Israel.”

Haaretz also citing a letter to President Reuven Rivlin sigened signed by heads of the four factions that represent almost half of EU parliament. the top EU officials said the Jewish State’s relationship with the European Union could suffer, due to a controversial bill that would compel groups receiving most of their funding from foreign governments to declare so in official reports.

Critics said that this bill will encourage a witch-hunt against leftist groups that campaign for the defense of Palestinian rights. The bill passed its first out of three reading in the parliament in February with 50 votes in favor and 43 against following a tense debate.

Under that bill, sponsored by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Israeli non-governmental organizations that get at least half of their funding from “foreign state entities” would have been obliged to identify donors on their financial statements and in official statements to Israeli public bodies. It would also compel staff of such NGOs to wear special identity tags when appearing in front of parliamentary committees, as is currently the case with paid lobbyists. Almost all the NGOs impacted by the bill are devoted to human rights.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responed to the to international criticism and announced two changes to the controversial bill. While reiterating his support for the bill, he said that activists visiting the Israeli parliament will not be compelled to wear name tags, and NGOs will now have to account for every dollar donated.

 

 

 

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