Wednesday, July 17, 2013

  • Wednesday, July 17, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
Tablet has an analysis of the new, much talked about EU guidelines that caused an uproar on Tuesday in Israel. The actual text was only published early this morning so much of the coverage was based on a Haaretz report that was not as accurate as it should have been.

So, just how earth-shattering are these guidelines? Tablet has acquired the official document containing the regulations, published today by the European Union, and we’ve spoken to an EU diplomat with close knowledge of its contents and drafting. As it turns out, there’s a lot less in these guidelines than most press coverage would have you believe. Here’s why:

They do not bind EU member states in their bilateral relationships with Israel.

The new regulations only apply to the institutions of the European Union itself. They do not restrict its member states in their bilateral ties with Israel, whether economic, cultural or diplomatic. ...

The guidelines do not affect trade.

In addition to not impacting Israel’s bilateral relationships with EU members, the new guidelines do not address trade, i.e. products originating in the settlements. The rules are a far cry from the platform of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks an end to all commerce and other contact with Israel in toto, and don’t even approach the West Bank boycott advocated by some liberal Zionists like Peter Beinart. Rather, in their own words, the guidelines only prohibit “EU support in the form of grants, prizes or financial instruments” from being given to companies or organizations with activities in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. (Individuals living in those areas, however, are exempt.)
The regulations do not apply to Israeli governmental institutions, regardless of their location.

The new rules explicitly exempt all Israeli national authorities, like ministries and government agencies, even if they are based in the Occupied Territories. For example, “the Israeli Authority for Antiquities, which is based in East Jerusalem, are not affected by this commission notice,” said the EU diplomat.

The move is not, as some have suggested, a hardball attempt to assist John Kerry in restarting negotiations.

The reason these guidelines were issued now is simple: “The budget of the EU is based on a six-year program, so the next budget will be 2014 to 2020,” explained the diplomat. “So they wanted to have this commission notice included now, in this budget.” ...

They do not take effect until 2014.

Contrary to Haaretz‘s reporting that the new guidelines “will go into effect by the end of this week,” they are only being published this week. Rather, as previously noted, the regulations are part of the next EU financial framework for 2014-2020, which takes effect on January 1, 2014. Whatever consequences these rules may have, they will not be sprung on Israel overnight and there will be time for Israel to explore options for working within (or around) them.
Nevertheless, the symbolism is indeed important, as the EU is clearly defining every inch over the Green Line to be Arab until negotiations make it otherwise:
The EU does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over any of the territories referred to in point 2 and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. The EU has made it clear that it will not recognise any changes to pre-1967 borders, other than those agreed by the parties to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP).
One problematic aspect of this document is that it refers to the 1949 armistice lines as "borders," when they were nothing of the sort.  UNSC 242 and its drafters made it clear that Israel must have "secure and recognized boundaries," as opposed to the situation before 1967. For the EU to explicitly refer to those lines as "borders" cannot be an oversight - it is a deliberate attempt to pre-judge the outcome of negotiations and is a huge gift to the intransigent Mahmoud Abbas. This might not be new, but that doesn't make it right - it only proves that the incorrect wording is deliberate, which should trouble anyone who wants to deal with the EU.

The idea of treating the anomalous 19 years of Jerusalem's artificial division and illegal occupation by Jordan of part of the city - where the holy sites were Judenrein - as somehow the "status quo" and an ideal to be strived for, while the successive 45 years of Jerusalem's unity is anomalous, is beyond absurd.

It means that the EU subscribes to this:

Israel is partially at fault for not having a clear, consistent, legal-based message to world diplomats on issues like Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

Beyond the legalities, though, is the reality that the poster above means to show: the world is targeting Jews, and only Jews.  See this great post by Yaacov Lozowick on Beit Safafa for examples of Arab Israelis who moved to the other side of the Green Line and are never considered "settlers".

Israel is doing a poor job at explaining its side of the story, and EU documents like this - even if only an incremental step - are the result. Nothing Israel is doing points to moving the discourse in any other direction. So things like the verbiage "borders," instead of causing a firestorm, are roundly believed to be accurate.

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