The European Union expressed concern on Friday over a directive by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to suspend contact with Europe on matters related to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, responded to the decision by saying, "The EU is concerned by reports in the Israeli media that the Israeli Minister of Defense has announced a number of restrictions affecting EU activities supporting the Palestinian people."
Kocijancic stressed, however, "We have not received any official communication from the Israeli authorities. Our delegations on the spot are seeking urgent clarifications.”
Israeli media outlets reported on Thursday that Yaalon has ordered the Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, to turn down any request by the European Union which relates to these regions.
Yaalon’s directive is a direct response to the EU’s new guidelines which forbid any contact with Israeli companies operating beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines, said the report. Last week the EU published these guidelines despite Israeli efforts to dissuade it from doing so.
The Defense Minister reportedly instructed Dangot to make it difficult for the Europeans to operate in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
In the past week, Israel has denied several European requests to fund projects in the Palestinian Authority. In addition, eight requests by EU officials to cross from Israel into PA-assigned areas were denied and meetings between EU and Israelis officials were canceled.
A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Friday that several European humanitarian aid staff had had difficulty obtaining permits to enter Gaza and some requests had gone unanswered.
Israel met European envoys last Friday, warning them of a serious crisis between the European Union and Israel over the move.
Hundreds of legal experts from Israel and around the world have appealed to European Union Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton to annul the EU's plan.
The experts are noting that the decision does not have a legal basis, because, they argue, Judea and Samaria is not occupied territory in the legal sense of the term.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)