Israel's relationship with the European Union has reached unprecedentedly strained levels. After a hasty and urgent meeting at his bureau on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement blasting the European Union over its decision to condition future agreements with Israel on the latter's recognition of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as occupied territories.
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"We will not accept any external edicts on our borders," Netanyahu said in a scathing response.
Haaretz revealed Tuesday that the European Union circulated on June 30 a guideline for all EU institutions, foundations, investment funds and aid organizations forbidding any funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to any Israeli legal entity established in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in the Golan Heights.
The guidelines, which were drawn up by the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, were also circulated to 28 member states, and are expected to be officially released on Friday. They go into effect on January 1.
The guidelines require that any agreement or contract signed by an EU body or institution with Israel include a clause stating that the settlements are not part of the State of Israel and therefore are not part of the agreement. The European Commission also recommended EU member states to act accordingly in their bilateral agreements with Israel.
In response to the report, Netanyahu said that the European Union should focus on ending the civil war in Syria or halting Iran's nuclear program, rather than exerting energy on Israel's settlements.
"These problems are a little more urgent," Netanyahu said. "They should fix these first."
"As the prime minister of Israel, I will not let anyone harm the hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, in the Golan Heights, or in Jerusalem – our united capital," he said. "The issue of borders will be determined only in direct negotiations between the sides."