EU issues new guidelines banning funding on Israeli bodies operating in occupied territories

  • Updated: July 19, 2013 - 1:21 PM

PARIS — The European Union has published new guidelines explicitly banning any EU funding of Israeli institutions operating in territories occupied since the 1967 Mideast war, despite vigorous Israeli objections.

The EU holds that Jewish settlements in territories such as the West Bank and east Jerusalem are illegal. The Palestinians want some of those territories for their hoped-for state.

After EU officials announced plans this week for the new guidelines, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with several European leaders to express his opposition.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the document released Friday "is meant to clarify the EU's position," not to harm efforts toward Mideast peace. The new rules come into force Jan. 1.

The EU said the ban applies to "grants, prizes and financial instruments and that the new funding guidelines go into effect in 2014. The EU issues dozens of grants, totaling millions of euros, to Israeli universities, companies and researchers every year, but little of that goes to Israeli bodies in the occupied territories.

Israel's foreign ministry called the move an "attempt by the European Commission to coerce positions on issues which belong at the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations table." In a statement, the ministry also said it "doubts the political wisdom" of Europe's ban and said it "would have been preferable" for Europe to put its efforts into promoting peace measures instead.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish settlements scattered through the West Bank and around east Jerusalem. In addition, the West Bank is dotted with smaller settlements and outposts not formally sanctioned by the government. The Palestinians and the international community view all of Israel's West Bank settlements as illegal.

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