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22 July 2013

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Israel smarting over tough new EU stance on settlements

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) Chairperson Martin O'Quigley welcomes decision but warns that guidelines must be rigourously implemented

THE STATE of Israel is fuming after a surprise European Union decision sees it take a firmer stance against Israeli settlements by blocking all future financial assistance to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. These settlements are considered illegal under international law.

The new EU rules will prohibit the issuing of grants, funding, prizes or scholarships unless a settlement exclusion clause is included. This means that any Israeli institutions or bodies located outside the country's pre-1967 borders will be ineligible for any EU funding whatsoever.

The inclusion of the clause means in order to secure any future agreements with the EU or member states, the Israeli Government must concede that these settlements are not part of its territory.

The rules come into force at the beginning of next year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted angrily to the move, saying:

“I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights and our united capital Jerusalem to be harmed.”

Finance Minister Yair Lapid claimed the decision “leads [the Palestinians] to believe that Israel will be forced to surrender to economic and diplomatic pressure”. 

Senior Palestinian officials welcomed the news, describing it as an effective policy decision and a positive step forward.

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) Chairperson Martin O’Quigley also welcomed the decision but warned that the guidelines must be rigorously implemented:

“They cannot be allowed to become simply another set of guidelines that are ignored by both Israel and the EU in the interests of trade and co-operation.

“It is way past time for the EU to walk the walk when it comes to cracking down on Israel’s settlement colonies in Palestine. They are illegal under international law and their very existence is a war crime under the Geneva Convention.”

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