Ya'alon Plays Down EU Boycott Decision

"It is not new that many countries in the world refer to Judea and Samaria as occupied territory,” says Defense Minister

Gil Ronen ,

Minister Moshe Yaalon
Minister Moshe Yaalon
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon responded calmly Tuesday to the EU's decision to boycott the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights

"It is not new that many countries in the world refer to Judea and Samaria as occupied territory and that they operate accordingly," said Yaalon. "We have our policy and we will continue to act in accordance with it, and with our interests," added the Minister of Defense.

MK Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi), however, responded angrily to the EU decision, branding it "racist",

"The EU decided over the last 24 hours to cut funding and economic ties with all Israeli entities outside the [pre-]67 lines. This is a racist decision. When the world sees that there are cracks in Israeli society around our sense of belonging to parts of our homeland, it immediately attacks.

“In 1975, the General Assembly of United Nations decided that Zionism is racism. Chaim Herzog, then UN ambassador of Israel, spoke of the right of Jewish people to statehood and tore apart the decision in front of the representatives of all the world. When Israel is confident, the world understands that!"

“This shows the extent to which the Europeans are detached from this region,” MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) told IDF Radio. “Why would [PA chief Mahmoud Abbas] enter negotiations if the Europeans are doing his work for him” by pressuring Israel, she asked rhetorically.

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, Haaretz wrote Tuesday.

The new instruction, promulgated by the European Commission, which is the operative arm of the EU, sets parameters for cooperation between the EU and its members states, on the one hand, and Israeli governmental and private elements on the other. The instructions are for the years 2014 – 2020 and will go into force on Friday, July 18.

The decision also states that any future agreement signed with Israel must include a section that says the “settlements” are not part of sovereign Israel and therefore not included in the agreement.

A senior source in the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the new EU decision is dramatic, and can be called “a true earthquake.”

Criticism of the move came from the left of the Israeli political spectrum as well. MK Hilik Bar (Labor) denounced the EU move as "a bad decision,”

"A boycott on the settlements does not contribute to the state of Israel, does not contribute to the Palestinian Authority... This boycott will also not help bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.”

MK Bar added, “ The state of Israel and the Palestinians have yet to solve the conflict between them, and the EU decision will not help solve the dispute. The decision also harms hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who work, live and make their living in Judea and Samaria.”

Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said that the decision is “wrong and regrettable. Steps like these – even before the Palestinians have announced that they are even willing to return to negotiations – push the diplomatic negotiations further away, not closer. The Europeans also need to know that Judea and Samaria are not 'occupied,' they are the national cradle of the Jewish people.”

MK Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said the decision is “tainted with racism and harsh discrimination toward the Jewish people,” and that it is “reminiscent of the boycotts against Jews in Europe over 66 years ago.”

Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnua) said that “the signs coming from the European Union could turn into a great flood against the state of Israel, and we must not bury our heads in the sand. We must take our own initiatives, that will bring about a resumprion of the diplomatic process, and look for confidence building measures vis-a-vis the Palestinians, including release of prisoners and a freeze on construction.”