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PA: Kerry Pressuring EU to Delay Boycott of 'Settlements'

Negotiator Nabil Shaath says EU boycotting guidelines encouraged the PA to resume peace talks with Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/10/2013, 12:15 AM

Nabil Shaath
Nabil Shaath
Flash 90

An official with the Palestinian Authority appeared to confirm on Monday that the European Union’s guidelines, which boycott Israeli entities operating beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines, were engineered as part of a deal so that the PA would resume negotiations with Israel.

According to an AFP report, senior PLO negotiator Nabil Shaath accused the United States of putting pressure on the EU to delay the guidelines' implementation so as to appease Israel.

"My information is that [Secretary of State John] Kerry is trying to persuade the Europeans to delay the implementation of their new guidelines," Shaath said.

"The Europeans encouraged us (to enter U.S.-brokered talks)... by publishing, before our decision, their new directions against settlement activities, and encouraged us by doing so," he added.

Shaath's comments are similar to remarks made by the PLO’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, during an interview with an Arabic radio station last month. In the same interview, Erekat said that the U.S. has guaranteed the PA all of its key preconditions in advance of negotiations.

A delegation from the EU is expected in Jerusalem on Tuesday to clarify the EU's position on Jewish communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines, an Israeli official told AFP.

The EU guidelines, published in July, banned European funding for and financial dealing with bodies in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights starting January 2014.

"Israeli diplomatic efforts and pressure by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have convinced the EU of the necessity to clarify how it intends to apply its guidelines," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The current wording of the guidelines encourages an extremist interpretation which does not allow Israel to enter partnerships with Europe," the official added.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday's meeting would "prepare the terrain for negotiations between Israel and the EU over the Horizon 2020 partnership which are due to take place on Thursday in Brussels."

Israel warned on August 14 that it might shun Horizon 2020, a six-year EU funding plan for research and innovation that the Jewish state was slated to participate in.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius recently admitted that the EU’s new guidelines which may have created a new legal situation that EU leaders had not meant to create.

Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem last month, Fabius said that the EU could consider somewhat changing the boycotting guidelines.