All agreements between the European Union and Israel must “unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” the EU foreign ministers agreed at the conclusion of the Foreign Affairs Council monthly meeting on Monday.
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Nevertheless, the Foreign Ministry did succeed in softening the decision. Whereas the draft resolution also included a clause requiring EU member states to draw a "distinction" between Israel and these territories – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – that clause was dropped from the final decision.
“The EU and its Member States are committed to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products,” the final decision says. “The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that - in line with international law - all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. This does not constitute a boycott of Israel which the EU strongly opposes.”
The decision was adopted after a marathon meeting in Brussels during which the foreign ministers of several countries, including Greece, Romania, Hungary and Poland, refused to accept the original, harsher resolution formulated by the EU’s five largest members – France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain.
The creation of this “blocking minority” was the result of a massive diplomatic push by the Foreign Ministry over the weekend. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally called the foreign ministers and leaders of several states in eastern Europe and the Balkans to bolster the ministry’s efforts. The result was that Israel managed to create a split among the EU members.
The countries in the blocking minority demanded that the resolution either be removed from the agenda entirely or softened. Since the council of EU foreign ministers can pass resolutions only by consensus, and neither the resolution’s sponsors nor EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini wanted it dropped, they agreed to soften parts of the text.
The final resolution states that the EU “will continue to closely monitor developments on the ground and their broader implications and will consider further action in order to protect the viability of the two-state solution, which is constantly eroded by new facts on the ground.”
It also calls for an international effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
“The EU, including through the action of its Special Representative, will work actively with all relevant stakeholders, including partners in the Quartet, notably the United States, in the region and in the United Nations Security Council, towards a renewed multilateral approach to the peace process,” it says. “Recalling the spirit of dialogue and cooperation that presided over the Madrid Conference 25 years ago, the establishment of an International Support Group and a further international conference are both possible ways to contribute to this end.”
Finally, it asserts that “settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two state solution impossible,” warning in particular that “Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States.” It therefore urges Israel “to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the outposts erected since March 2001, in line with prior obligations.”
The Foreign Ministry said in response that "In wake of a diplomatic and political effort by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry, the EU softened its decision. Nonetheless, the EU continues to maintain a double standard in regards to Israel, while ignoring the Palestinian Authority's responsibility for the stalemate in the diplomatic process and incitement fueling the Palestinian wave of terror.
"From some 200 territorial disputes around the world the EU chooses to discriminate only against Israel. This outlook prevents the EU from being a fair partner in resolving the conflict," the statement said.