BRUSSELS, September 16, 2013 (WAFA) – Former European diplomats Monday urged European Union officials to uphold the guidelines on funding of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In a letter addressed to the EU foreign ministers with a copy sent to the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, and to the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the former diplomats said that they were concerned “of recent calls to delay, modify or even suspend the European Commission guidelines on funding of Israeli entities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.”
The guidelines state that “The European Union expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the European Union must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”
The letter, written by Jeremy Greenstock, Wolfgang Ischinger and Hubert Védrine, co-chairs of the European Eminent Persons Group, urged the EU leaders to “uphold this commitment by supporting the guidelines and their full application by EU institutions, notably in regard to the on-going negotiations about Israel’s participation in Horizon 2020.”
The authors of the letter stressed that the strict application of the guidelines “serves to re-iterate that the EU does not recognize and will not support settlements and other illegal facts on the ground that increasingly dictate a unilateral reality inimical to a two state agreement.”
It said that “it is these facts on the ground, not the guidelines, which threaten to make a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.”
Israeli officials have claimed that the guidelines will undermine renewed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. The Palestinians, on the other hand, said the guidelines have helped them decide to return to the negotiations table with Israel after three years of no talks and urged their continuation.
The group warned that “if the EU were to delay or suspend the guidelines, or not fully apply them to the agreement with Israel on Horizon 2020, this could further undermine the Palestinians’ trust in the negotiation process and their ability to continue the talks. In other words, delaying or suspending the guidelines is likely to undermine negotiations, not help them.”
It will also reinforce Israel’s “intransigence” and “damage the EU’s credibility and erode its vital foundations as a law-based community,” said the former diplomats.