Israel PM Netanyahu Calls Urgent Cabinet Meeting After EU ‘Earthquake’ Decision
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an urgent cabinet meeting for Tuesday evening, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
The meeting comes in response to recent reports that the European Union has initiated moves to boycott certain Israelis.
According to information leaked to Haaretz, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, two weeks ago issued a directive requiring all 28 member states to ban all funding, collaboration, scholarships, research grants and awards to Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while requiring that any future agreements signed with Israel must include a clause stating that the settlements are not part of the sovereign State of Israel and therefore are not part of said agreement. The directive goes into effect this Friday.
The unilateral EU decision touches upon the question of borders, which was previously to be part of “final status” negotiations; on discrimination, as both Jews and Arabs live in the land under question; and opens up further questions about those “entities,” which may have mixed employees, ownership or membership.
Israeli officials sharply criticized the move, and members of the Israeli cabinet also expressed disappointment in the timing of the decision, claiming it undermines U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent push to resume negotiations.
Minister of Finance Yair Lapid told Channel 2: “The unfortunate timing couldn’t be worse and undermines efforts by Secretary of State [John Kerry] to bring the two sides to the negotiating table.”
“The latest decision is part of a long line of decisions that lead to the isolation of Israel in the world,” Lapid said. “Time is not on our side, and every day that Israel is not in the peace negotiations more injury is caused to our international standing.”
Lapid noted that the EU’s decision signaled to the Palestinians that “there is no international or economic price for their continued refusal to return to negotiations, causing them to believe that Israel will buckle under economic and political pressure.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel will continue to operate as it sees fit. “It is not new that many countries in the world refer to Judea and Samaria as occupied territory and according to that they work,” Ya’alon said. “We have our policy regarding the West Bank and will continue to follow the policy and our interests.”
A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the ruling was an “earthquake” which unprecedentedly turns “understandings and quiet agreements that the Union does not work beyond the Green Line” into “formal, binding policy.”
Channel 2 said the prime minister’s office was expected to make a statement at the conclusion of the cabinet meeting.