New EU Draft Resolution Draws Stark Distinction Between Israel, West Bank Settlements

Israel working frantically to block pending resolution, expected to be published on Monday, that top officials says could lead to additional sanctions against Israeli settlements.

EU foreign police chief Federica Mogherini with Slovakia's FM Miroslav Lajcak, Irish FM Charles Flanagan and Belgium's FM Didier Reynders at EU foreign ministers meeting. December 14, 2015.
AP

Israel's Foreign Ministry is making last-ditch efforts this weekend to block a pending European Union resolution that emphasizes the distinction between Israel-proper and the territories it captured during the 1967 Six Day War.

Adoption of the resolution could lead to new sanctions against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, senior officials in Jerusalem and European diplomats told Haaretz.

The resolution is expected to be published on Monday, at the conclusion of the monthly meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, comprising the foreign ministers of the 28 EU member states.

It was initially expected to be relatively moderate, but the draft's wording got increasingly harsh with regard to Israel during Thursday's session at EU headquarters in Brussels, according to senior Israeli officials.

European and Israeli diplomats who have seen the latest draft of the resolution presented Haaretz with its main points:

The draft stresses the distinction made by the EU between Israel and the settlements. "The EU will continue to unequivocally and explicitly make the distinction between Israel and all territories occupied by Israel in 1967," says the draft.  

"EU agreements with the State of Israel are only applicable to the State of Israel [and not to the settlements, B.R.]. The EU and its member states are united in their commitment to ensure full implementation of existing EU legislation and agreements applicable to settlement products. The EU reaffirms its decision [to label settlement products, B.R.] and doesn’t consider it a boycott of Israel, which the EU opposes."

The draft says the EU will consider taking steps to save the two-state solution. "The EU will continue to closely monitor developments on the ground and their broader implications," says the draft. "The EU will consider further action to protect the viability of the two-state solution, which is constantly eroded by new facts on the ground."

The draft backs France's suggestion that an international support group be established to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and to convene an international peace conference in order to restart regional, multi-sided negotiations between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states.

The draft includes an indirect reference to the NGO bill promoted by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and even equates Israel's conduct regarding NGOs with that of the Palestinian Authority. "The EU is concerned at attempts to stifle civil society on both sides," the draft says.

The draft welcomes the progress in the investigation into the murder of three members of a Palestinian family by Jewish terrorists in the village of Duma, but continues to call on Israel to prosecute settlers who use violence against Palestinians. The draft also calls on Israel and the Palestinian to make "proportional use of force."

A senior official in Jerusalem said that Israeli ambassadors in all the European countries as well as those in the EU institutions in Brussels had worked in recent days in an effort to soften the draft resolution being promoted by Sweden, Ireland and, to an extent, France. European diplomats involved in the drafting of the resolution said, however, that it was promoted by the larger countries – Britain, France, Italy, Spain and, to an extent, Germany. They said that diplomats representing these countries said they refuse to soften their policy toward the settlements and that they are looking for a harsher document.

As of now, that effort has not met with success.

Ambassadors of the 28 EU countries are due to meet again on Monday morning, just before the Council of Foreign Minister, to discuss the text of the draft resolution. That will be followed by another discussion at foreign minister level.

"The drafts have become increasingly harsh and grave from moment to moment," the Israeli official said. "The Swedes and Irish are pushing and it appears as if our friends are not able to withstand it. The Germans are trying to hold the line, but are not succeeding."

Officials in Jerusalem stressed that acceptance of the resolution in its current form would be another legal anchor for those European countries trying to get Israel to separate from the territories.

The consequences could be severe, they said, and could bring about increased sanctions against the settlements.

"It will be difficult to stop initiatives by European countries against the settlements," one official said.