Israel dismissed on Monday a letter by former European leaders calling on the EU to stick by its settlement guidelines. As far as Jerusalem is concerned, the words of biased former officials are no longer significant.
“The people who signed the letter are no longer relevant and do not have control or say in the EU decision-making process,” a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “This reflects their own biased positions and does not surprise us.
Secretary of State John Kerry has made it clear that these guidelines are not productive for the peace process or the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian discussions which have been held recently.”
The letter by a group of former European statesmen, known as the Eminent European Persons Group, called on the EU not to backtrack on the settlement guidelines banning all EU cooperation with entities beyond the Green Line, including east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The letter was sent to the EU’s 28 foreign ministers.
The 15-member group includes former French Foreign Minister Hubert Verdine, who is one of its co-chairs, former EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who was NATO’s secretary-general, and former Spanish foreign minister and Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos.
The letter calls for the settlement guidelines to be upheld with regard to the ongoing Horizon 2020 negotiations.
Israel has said it would not join the 80-billion-euro R&D project under the settlement guidelines, and last week two meetings were held on the matter – one in Jerusalem and the other in Brussels.
Talks of modifying the implementation of the guidelines in such a way that Israel would be able to participate in the project are ongoing.
Kerry called earlier this month for a delay in the implementation of the directive, as have some European political leaders.
Responding angrily to the letter, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor called it “a danger to peace, as it hands one side a political victory without having to compromise and deepens the Palestinian feeling that they can gain more outside of negotiations than in them.”
In a full-page advertisement in Monday’s Financial Times, Kantor said the letter was discriminatory and would ultimately harm the success of peace efforts underway for the first time in three years.
“From the well-over 100 territorial disputes in the world, the European Union has mandated the creation of a clause in every agreement denying European funding to, and cooperation with, institutions from only one nation involved in a territorial dispute: Israel,” Kantor wrote.
“What makes the situation far worse is that the European Union is abrogating agreements that it signed and witnessed,” he said. “The Oslo Accords, the basis for the peace negotiations, specifically stipulated that the current status of the territories, and its residents, will not be changed or harmed ahead of final status negotiations, to which the parties have recently returned.”
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon also accused the former EU officials of harming the peace process.
“Former European officials never cease to amaze,” he said. “They have crossed the line of criticism of the State of Israel. I expect the European leadership to condemn this move.”