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July 26, 2013

In Blog

Defense Minister Ya’alon limits EU projects in West Bank, Gaza

Responding to the European Union’s new settlement guidelines, Israel to halt cooperation on the ground with EU representatives.

By Amos Harel | Jul. 26, 2013 | 12:49 PM |  4
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in the Knesset. July 22, 2013.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in the Knesset, July 22, 2013. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
 In response to the European Union’s new guidelines banning cooperation with Israeli settlements, Israel has decided to limit the movement of EU representatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered defense officials to halt cooperation on the ground with EU representatives. This includes any assistance to EU infrastructure projects in Area C, which is under full Israeli civilian and military control. Ya’alon also plans to make it more difficult for EU officials to pass through the Erez Crossing, to the Gaza Strip or back to Israel.

In his decision, Ya’alon adopted a list of recommendations he received from the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot. Israel’s security establishment would adopt a cold shoulder policy toward EU activities in the territories, Haaretz learned from security sources Friday morning.

However, they clarified, this would apply only to specifically EU activities and not activities conducted by EU member states

It seems that Ya’alon’s moves are being made in coordination with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Following the EU announcement of the new guidelines, Israeli political and defense officials warned that Israel would retaliate the new policy.

The European Commission published a set of new guidelines barring EU agencies from funding entities connected to settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and residential areas in the Golan Heights on July 19.

The EC is the executive body of the European Union and is tasked with implementing EU decisions. The guidelines were published in the Official Journal of the European Union, despite Israel’s attempts to pressure the EC and several prominent EU member states to delay publication.

Alongside Israel’s refusal to renew transit visas to and from Gaza for EU representatives (both European citizens and Palestinians working for the EU), the security establishment has also cancelled several meetings with EU representatives that were supposed to take place in the near future.

Israel has also made it more difficult for the EU to transfer donor funds to projects in the Palestinian territories. For example, the processing of the aid the EU is providing for the establishment of a training facility for Palestinian Authority force in the West Bank has been frozen.