Again shalt thou plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall have the use thereof. (Jeremiah 31:4)
, following a request to delay their planned ban on products produced from Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, the European Union plans to send a team to the Holy Land in order to determine how best to proceed with the measure, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The EU decision in July to issue the guidelines that clarified its policy against providing grants, prizes or loans to Israeli entities, including non-profit and educational institutions, located over the pre-1967 lines, infuriated Israel, which said it was counterproductive to the peace process.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, meeting with a number of EU ministers in Vilnius, Lithuania had reportedly asked for the governing body to delay the implementation of the boycott due to the ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which he engineered.
At a briefing with reporters prior to the meeting, a senior state department official said, “The secretary’s message to the EU foreign ministers will be very clear, that now that the parties are in negotiations and both leaders took difficult and painful – politically painful decisions in order to get into these direct negotiations – that it’s important for those parties who have an interest in a successful outcome that they be supportive of this effort and that they find a way to embrace the negotiators and encourage them to move forward, rather than, as it were metaphorically, bang them over the head.”
When asked about Kerry’s request at a press conference after the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said, “I want to reiterate the issue of the guidelines, that this is putting down on paper what is currently the EU’s position.” She added, “We will be sending a team to Israel on Monday… We of course want to continue to have a strong relationship with Israel.”
PLO executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi expressed concern over Kerry’s request to the EU. “The announcement of the EU guidelines was a very positive step which played a significant role in the decision to resume negotiations. By refusing to extend grants and awards beyond the Green Line, these guidelines reinforce the 1967 border and play a constructive role in reaffirming the two-state solution, something which can only help the cause of peace.
“Reports of US on behalf of Israel are extremely discouraging and cast serious doubts on the US mediation role,” Ashrawi added. “Once again the US is using the negotiations process to grant Israel immunity and to buy it more time to create facts on the ground, thereby rendering the so-called ‘peace process’ a self-defeating exercise.”
According to The Times of Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin said Israel will forgo a research partnership with the EU worth hundreds of millions of dollars rather than accept an anti-settlement clause as part of such a deal.
Elkin said Israel could not sign on the Horizon 2020 research partnership unless the European Union removed a clause from its new settlement guidelines that forces Israel to acknowledge the country does not extend over the Green Line.
“We want to sign and we are ready to negotiate, but if the conditions are as they are today, which are unprecedented … we can’t sign,” Elkin said.
The EU has indicated that the new directives will go through, despite Israeli objections.