The European Union has apologized to Israel for accusing the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria of causing economic strangulation for Arabs. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has accepted the apology.
"This press release that was issued by the technical office of the commission does not use wording that reflects the views of the European Commission or Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner," her spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman added that the EU is “concerned about the negative effect that settlement policy has on the economic life of Palestinians” but admitted, “the wording chosen in that statement does take it out of context. In our view the reality is much more complex.”
The statement earlier this week blamed the existence of Jewish communities for being the root cause of economic problems for Arabs and for the Palestinian Authority to be virtually totally dependent on EU handouts. The accusations made no mention of the state of the thriving Arab economy before the first and second Intifadas, when Israelis freely shopped in Arab villages and thousands of Arabs worked for Jewish contractors.
The accusations by the EU commission set off a storm of protests by nationalists in Israel and prompted the Foreign Ministry to recall Ramiro Cibrian Uzal, the head of Israel’s EU delegation.
The Foreign Ministry pointed out that the EU report “ignores the fact that the issue of settlements has been agreed by the parties to be addressed in parallel with the fulfillment of other obligations -- including Palestinian security obligations” and implied that security precautions in Judea and Samaria are “unnecessary and even illegal, alongside a total failure to recognize that it is the continued activity of Palestinian terrorist groups which makes such measures an unfortunate necessity.”