The European Union is prepared to expand its list of punitive measures against Israel should U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s bid to restart the Israeli-Palestininan peace process fail, a senior American official said, according to Haaretz.
The E.U. issued new guidelines on Tuesday that would ban funding and cooperation with Israeli organizations that operate in the occupied territories. “In order to obtain EU funding from 2014,” the AP reported on Tuesday, “Israeli projects will be required to sign on to a clause stipulating they operate within the country’s pre-1967 borders and not in east Jerusalem, the West Bank or Golan Heights.”
A senior Israeli official called the new guidelines an “earthquake,” according to Haaretz.
But as the U.S. official said, the E.U. is prepared to go further. “The Europeans are giving us the time and allowing us to try and get the talks going,” the official said. “But if we don’t succeed, they would want to go in other directions and take steps. The Israelis know it very well.”
Brent Sasley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington, called the new E.U. guidelines “another signal that the international community is fed up with simply noting the Israeli occupation, and is taking concrete political, economic, and legal action to try and end it.”
Haaretz reports that should Kerry’s efforts fail, the E.U. will likely lay most of the blame with Israel and “then move ahead with plans to label goods produced in Israeli settlements across the 28-member union. Other European proposals that have been raised include requiring visas for Israeli settlers wishing to travel to the EU.”
The E.U. move adds to the sense of urgency surrounding this latest U.S. push to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Kerry and other top officials are warning that time is running out for any possible implementation of the two-state solution.
Kerry’s efforts will continue this week as he will reportedly travel to Jordan on Wednesday to meet with top Arab officials in a bid to revive peace talks.
Netanyahu issued a scathing response to the new E.U. guidelines. “We will not except any external edicts on our borders,” he said, adding that issue with Syria and Iran “are a little more urgent.”
Yuval Diskin, the former head of Israel’s domestic security service, criticized Israeli leaders on Saturday for prioritizing issues like Iran at the expense of solving the conflict with the Palestinians. “Whoever is adept at constantly drawing ‘red lines’ for the Iranians would be better off taking a look at his next-door neighbors rather than at those on the other side of the faroff, darkened hills, for doing so would reveal to him that it is here, right here, where we are nearing the point of no return,” Diskin said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 0.5 percent of the more than $1 billion the E.U. has sent to Israel in the past seven years has gone to entities in the occupied territories.