EU's Catherine Ashton, PM Binyamin Netanyahu
EU's Catherine Ashton, PM Binyamin NetanyahuIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A delegation from the European Union is expected in Jerusalem on Tuesday to clarify the EU's position on Jewish communities in what it considers to be "occupied Palestinian territory," an Israeli official said.

The EU is apparently seeking to reassure Israelis who are concerned about the economic harm caused  by the EU's decision to forbid its member states from cooperating, transferring funds, or giving scholarships or research grants to Jewish institutions in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

"Israeli diplomatic efforts and pressure by US 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 said.

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.

But the Palestinian Authority, which welcomed the EU's guidelines, said on Monday the United States was putting pressure on the EU to delay the guidelines' implementation so as to appease Israel.

"My information is that Mr Kerry is trying to persuade the Europeans to delay the implementation of their new guidelines," senior PA negotiator Nabil Shaath said. 

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