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      Min. Katz Blames Foreign Ministry Strikes Over EU Sanctions

      Transport Minister says Israel was caught unawares, blames striking Foreign Ministry employees
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 7/17/2013, 9:41 AM

      Yisrael Katz
      Yisrael Katz
      Flash 90

      The European Union's announcement of a boycott on Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem caught Israel by surprise, according to Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud)

      Speaking on Channel 2 television Wednesday, Katz called this an “intelligence failure” and said that it could have been caused by the fact the Foreign Ministry employees are currently on a partial strike.

      Min. Katz said that when he holds meetings in other countries on matters relating to his ministry's portfolio, the Foreign Ministry no longer sends a representative to the meetings, as it did before the strike began.

      Katz said that the Prime Miniister Binyamin Netanyahu only learned of the boycott on Monday, despite the fact that the EU decision was made at the end of June. He said that had Israel known in advance of the decision, it could have responded to it more effectively.

      The prime minister is attempting to bring about a postponement of the implementation of the decision, said Katz, who added that he supports the prime minister in this effort.

      The European Union has issued orders forbidding its member states from cooperating, transferring funds, giving scholarships or research grants to bodies in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem , and even the Golan Heights. 

      Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday in an initial reaction to the EU boycott: "As Israel's prime minister, I will not allow hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and our united capital of Jerusalem to be harmed.” 

      "We will not accept any external dictates regarding our borders," he said, adding that “the issue will be decided only in direct negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.