Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would accept “no external dictates” on its borders after a European Union decision to restrict subsidies to organizations operating beyond its 1967 borders.
“I would expect that anyone for whom stability and peace in the region is really important to find time to discuss this issue after resolving more urgent problems such as the civil war in Syria and Iran’s race to achieve nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said in a text message.
The European Commission, the union’s executive arm, said it will soon publish “guidelines” making good on a December pledge to deny EU funding to Israeli organizations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.
“All Israeli entities whose place of establishment is within the green line will be considered eligible,” EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels today. The green line refers to Israel’s pre-1967 borders.
The guidelines will cover central EU funding and won’t affect contracts between individual European governments and Israel, Kocijancic said. She said the result could be funding restrictions in “a very small number of cases.”
Israeli captured the three areas during the 1967 Middle East War with its Arab neighbors. It has since withdrawn troops and evacuated settlements in Gaza and annexed the Golan in a move that has not been recognized internationally. Israel says the fate of settlements in the West Bank must be resolved in peace negotiations.
The EU decision shows “once again how disconnected Europe is, and why it can’t play a real partnership role in negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians, Minister of Regional Development Silvan Shalom said today on Army Radio.
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, welcomed what she called a “significant move.”
“The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps which constitute a qualitative shift that will have positive impact on the chances of peace,” she said.
The decision comes before a visit to the region this week by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to revive peace talks that have been suspended since 2010.