Friday

26th Apr 2019

EU punishes Israel on settlements, rewards it on UN club

  • Israel spends a tiny fraction of Horizon money in occupied zones (Photo: flickr creative commons)

Poor Israeli PR has seen the EU enforce new rules on science funding, but EU states compensated Israel with a UN gift.

Under the funding deal, the EU and Israel will shortly sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Israel's participation in the Union's "Horizon 2020" research programme.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The grants will be governed by new EU guidelines, which say Israeli firms and institutions cannot spend a cent of EU money on activity in occupied Palestinian land.

Contacts familiar with the MoU text told EUobserver it will include an appendix saying Israel does not recognise the guidelines.

But they described the appendix as "futile … a fig leaf."

They said the Horizon 2020 "work programme" and "calls for proposals" - which detail implementation - will oblige Israeli entities to comply with the guidelines if they want EU cash.

Crucially, the European Commission will also send Israel a notification on the implementing documents.

The legal notice means Israel will not be able to challenge Horizon 2020 eligibility criteria in the EU court in Luxembourg and Israeli entities will not be able to challenge them in Israeli courts.

The EU went some way to help Israel save face.

It agreed to the Israeli appendix.

It is keeping quiet on the work programme and legal notification issue.

EU officials also agreed to let Israel break news of the accord in Israeli media so they could spin it as a "compromise" in which Israel won "concessions."

Israel spends a tiny fraction of EU science funds in occupied zones.

But after years of verbal criticism, the Horizon 2020 deal represents the Union's first legal blow against settlement expansion.

It also creates a precedent for EU grants in other sectors for the next seven years.

"This agreement will pave the way for Israel's participation in other EU programmes to be launched from 1 January 2014," the two sides said in a joint statement on Tuesday (26 November).

Israeli spin backfires

EU diplomats told this website that Israeli PR made the EU less flexible than it might have been.

The EU commission, at one point in the talks, wobbled on the legal notification issue.

But a series of leaks by Israeli officials to Israeli media saying EU negotiators had agreed to water down its new regime prompted Arab diplomats, pro-Palestinian NGOs, MEPs and European politicians to deluge EU institutions with complaints.

"The lesson is that even if you are speaking to your domestic audience, your enemy is also reading the press," an EU source told this website.

"We had an unprecedented number of high-level letters, meetings, which made it very tough for the EU to back down," he added.

Other Israeli efforts were equally counterproductive.

On Monday, the eve of the Horizon 2020 deal, Israel sent major general Eitan Dangot to talk to EU diplomats in an EU Council working group on the Middle East.

Dangot, the head of Cogat, a branch of the Israeli defence ministry responsible for the occupied territories, showed EU diplomats a slide presentation of Palestinian children with AK47s designed to demonstrate that Palestine does not want a peace deal.

He said Palestinians should be "grateful" for the occupation because Israel builds them schools and other facilities.

Dutch and Swedish delegates complained, saying Israel has destroyed dozens of EU-funded projects in Palestine.

"The more I listen to this kind of thing, the less sympathy I have for the Israeli point of view," another EU diplomat who met Dangot told this website.

The EU's hard line on settlements does not mean it is not giving Israel what it wants in other areas, however.

Quid pro quo

Also on Tuesday, EU states, the US and Turkey in the "Western European and Others Group [Weog]" at the UN office in Geneva agreed to let Israel become a fully-fledged member.

Weog co-ordinates voting positions and holds internal debates, in a similar way to political groups in the European Parliament.

The move comes despite the fact that in 2009 EU states froze plans for a "diplomatic upgrade" in EU-Israel relations, part of which included Weog membership in Geneva.

EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton told MEPs in September the freeze is still in force.

But a diplomat from one EU country told EUobserver that many EU capitals have "forgotten" their 2009 decision.

"Four years is an eternity in diplomatic life," he said.

He noted that Germany pushed for the Weog move in order to compensate Israel for the settlement funding rules.

"It's a clear breach of the upgrade freeze. But there is a broader mindset in which the EU is afraid of its own shadow on Israel, and it has certainly cast a shadow with the new guidelines," he added.

An Israeli diplomat told EUobserver: "We don't see any connection between Weog and the guidelines."

The German foreign ministry declined to comment.

Opinion

Peace through gas in Israel and Palestine

The recent EU audit on aid to Gaza highlighted important problems on corruption, but did nothing to address the problem, and the potential, of the Gaza power plant.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions

Opinion

Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all

The foreign affairs minister of Haiti calls for the replacement EU-Africa, Caribbean, Pacific 'Cotonou' agreement of 2000 to be updated to take account climate change, infrastructure and tourism to help the country transition away from aid-dependence.

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us