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European, International Leaders Call on E.U. to Reevaluate Anti-Settlement Measures

A group of European and global leaders – drawn from political, military, intellectual, and activist circles – are calling on European Union foreign ministers to reevaluate recently passed guidelines cutting off cooperation between European institutions and Israeli establishments beyond Israel’s 1948 armistice lines. A letter sent by the group (embedded below) on Monday offers a blistering evaluation of the policies’ effects:

The new letter’s signatories suggested that the Eminent Persons applied a double standard, because “the question then arises if these new restrictions in the case of Israel represent a broader policy that is being applied universally by the EU with respect to the dozens of territorial disputes, some of which are on Europe’s doorstep (fishery agreement with Morocco over the waters of Western Sahara, funds to the Turkish community in Northern Cyprus, for instance), or, put it simply, is just a discriminatory policy directed exclusively against Israel.”…

“We urge you to lend critical support to both Secretary Kerry’s remarkable efforts and to the political courage of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and negotiators who have now resumed peace talks after years of impasse,” they continued….

“In many respects it is prejudging the question of Israel’s future borders, and in doing so it is in fact undermining the delicate negotiations that are currently transpiring. By treating Israel differently than most other states, this policy only reinforces the impression among Israelis that Europe is basically unfriendly to Israel and cannot be relied upon as it once was.”

Signatories included, among others Jose Maria Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, Lord David Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland and a Nobel Peace Price laureate, and Alejandro Toledo, the former President of Peru.

The reference to Kerry’s peace process echoes critiques made when the measures were first passed, to the effect that the E.U. policy undermined the current U.S.-backed peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians:

You don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool Likudnik to understand that the clear and immediate effect of the EU’s new policy directive barring cooperation with Israeli entities over the pre-’67 line will be to prompt the hardening of the already inflexible Palestinian position regarding new talks… Kerry, who is thoroughly familiar with the Israel-Palestinian arena, would know that the PA is now even less likely to abandon its pre-conditions to new talks. If anything, it will only add new ones. And the conditions that the PA is presenting are not realistic: not merely Israeli acceptance of the pre-’67 lines as the basis for negotiation, but also a complete freeze on building over the ’67 lines, and the release of all prisoners arrested before the Oslo accords.

The measures have also triggered strain between Israel and Europe, and European programs in Israel have suffered as a result.

Letter to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU

[Photo: ecemaml / Wiki Commons]