Related Quarterly Updates

An EU delegation headed by French FM Alain Juppe toured Damascus, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon from 2/8-12. The delegation expressed support for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan, met with representatives at Orient House while in Jerusalem, and called for the resumption of Palestinian talks. 

Earlier, on 11/28, the EU lifted an eight-year arms embargo on Syria.

EU members were a focus of Israeli and Palestinian lobbying this quarter, particularly regarding the issue of recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN in 9/2011. Israel lobbied the EU hard to block the British-French-German initiative to put forward a Quartet initiative to relaunch the peace process, to withhold EU support for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, and to oppose Palestinian efforts to achieve recognition of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians, meanwhile, lobbied for the opposite. Most of the contacts were bilateral, between Israel and the PA and individual EU states.

To this end, Israeli PM Netanyahu traveled to London (5/4) and Paris (5/9) as part of what he planned to be a series of meetings with EU leaders over the coming weeks. British PM David Cameron, according to his spokesman, told Netanyahu that “Britain’s clear and absolute preference is for a negotiation to take place between Israel and the Palestinians which leads to a two state solution which everyone endorses,” but that if Israel did not resume serious negotiations toward a 2-state solution, “Britain is not ruling anything out.” French pres. Nicholas Sarkozy did not publicly take a position on the issues but offered to host a round of Israeli-Palestinian talks in Paris in 6/2011 to discuss reviving negotiations. No preparations for a meeting were reported by the close of the quarter.

PA Pres. Abbas met (5/5) with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to press for endorsing Palestinian statehood at the UN in 9/2011, but Merkel stressed that “unilateral actions” were unhelpful and urged an immediate return to negotiations based on the Quartet principles. Meanwhile, French pres. Nicholas Sarkozy told Abbas (5/5) that France would likely support the statehood effort if the peace process remained stalemated through the summer.

Of note: According to anonymous Israeli officials, Netanyahu phoned German chancellor Merkel on 2/21 to express disappointment with Germany’s 2/18 vote in favor of the UNSC res. on settlements (see “Paving the Way for UN Recognition” above). Merkel reportedly (HA 2/25) was furious, telling Netanyahu: “How dare you. . . . You are the one who disappointed us. You haven’t made a single step to advance peace.”

Also of note: Marc Otte, EU special rep. for the Middle East peace process since 2003, ended his term on 3/1. EU external affairs chief Catherine Ashton did not appoint a replacement immediately, citing lack of movement on the peace process. An anonymous EU official said (Agence France-Presse 3/4) that the matter would be discussed in fall 2011 after a detailed review of the effectiveness of the EU’s full network of special envoys and reps. Another EU official, also speaking anonymously, said Ashton placed such high importance on the peace process that she intended to assume the role herself.

EU efforts on the peace process this quarter focused on reviving PalestinianIsraeli peace talks and on the anticipated 9/2011 Palestinian statehood bid at the UN. European parliament pres. Jerzy Buzek toured (ca. 6/13–15) Israel and the Palestinian territories. In his address to the Knesset on 6/15, he stated that the EU supported both Obama’s call for negotiations based on 1967 borders with agreed swaps and France’s proposal for a conference in Paris to explore reviving peace talks (see “Revival of the French Initiative” above). Buzek also visited Gaza (6/13), where he called on Israel to lift its blockade immediately; and Ramallah (6/14), where he told PA officials that while the EU does not oppose Palestinian unilateral efforts at the UN, it strongly favors negotiations as the best route to a viable, long-standing peace with Israel.

As was the case last quarter (see QU in JPS 160), Palestinian and Israel officials lobbied EU members throughout the quarter to either support or oppose the Palestinian statehood initiative at the UN. In addition, 20 prominent Israelis (including former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, former FMin. dir-gen. Alon Leil, and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman) signed a 5/27 letter to European leaders urging them to support a Palestinian declaration of statehood as a “positive, constructive step” given the peace impasse.

On 7/11, 106 of 736 members of the European parliament sent a letter to EU foreign policy adviser Catherine Ashton urging the EU to oppose the Palestinians’ unilateral bid for statehood. Ashton was in Washington for the senior-level Quartet meetings to discuss possibly launching a new initiative to revive the peace talks (see “The Quartet Meets” above).

The 27 EU states were particularly divided over the Palestinian statehood initiative at the UN, and thus were subjected to intensive lobbying by the Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans. Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal, currently members of the UNSC, were especially targeted. As the quarter opened, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and most former Soviet satellites that were EU members generally opposed the statehood bid; Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and most Scandinavian countries leaned toward supporting it. Britain and France were on the fence, saying their vote would depend on the text of the PLO application. EU FMs met on 9/2 to discuss the statehood initiative but were unable to agree on a unified position. On the eve of the UNGA session, Israel was confident that even if the EU bloc split, the Palestinians would not be able to secure the support of an EU majority.

Perhaps because of these divisions, the EU as a group focused more on supporting the Quartet efforts to convince Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton planned 2 days of meetings in the region 9/12–13 to confer on the Palestinian statehood bid and a potential Quartet statement on resuming talks, meeting with Abbas and the Arab League in Cairo on 9/12 and Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials in Israel on 9/13. At Israel’s request, Ashton extended her stay in the region through at least 9/15 in an unsuccessful attempt to help Quartet envoy Blair and U.S. envoys Ross and Hale broker a Quartet deal aimed at averting a crisis at the UNGA session. During their 9/12 meeting, Abbas asked Ashton directly how the EU would respond if the Palestinians sought observer-state status rather than member-state status. She replied that the EU would not officially state its position until it saw the text of the formal Palestinian application, but acknowledged that the individual EU states would be divided no matter which option Abbas pursued. When Abbas decided to seek full membership via the UNSC, the 4 EU states on the UNSC split as expected, with Germany leaning toward opposing the motion and Britain, France, and Portugal intending to abstain. This division contributed to the UNSC deadlock and its failure to issue a recommendation, effectively blocking the Palestinian bid; no vote was actually taken. The EU as a body never stated a position on the application.

Meanwhile, the EU formally called (8/17) on Israel to allow the Palestinians to reopen offices in East Jerusalem in keeping with phase 1 of the 2003 road map plan. The statement was prompted by Israel’s renewal (ca. 8/17) of its closure order against the Orient House and the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in East Jerusalem. Orient House traditionally served as the PLO’s de facto headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem. Israel sealed the office at the start of the first intifada in 1988, allowed it to reopen during the Madrid peace talks in 1992, and shuttered it along with other official Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem in 8/2001 at the start of the al-Aqsa intifada.

On a bilateral level: Britain, under political pressure from Israel, modified (9/15) its universal jurisdiction law (allowing British courts to prosecute individuals suspected of committing grave violations of international law regardless of the individual’s nationality, country of residence, or where the alleged crime was committed) to give the director of public prosecutions the power to veto the issue of arrest warrants for universal jurisdiction offences. The move was seen (e.g., Palestinian Center for Human Rights 9/19) as “a purely political move designed to block the arrest of war criminals from ‘friendly’ countries.” Pro-Palestinian groups in Britain previously used universal jurisdiction laws to issue arrest warrants for IDF Maj. Gen. Doron Almog in 2005 and Israel’s former acting PM Tzipi Livni in 2009.

Of special note: On 10/4, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted (110-5, with 10 abstentions) to grant the Palestine National Council (PNC) the status of “partner for democracy,” which allows PNC reps. to speak before the PACE assembly and most committees. PACE is an international investigatory and advisory body whose recommendations on issues related to human rights, international law, and cultural cooperation have significant weight with the European Parliament and other EU institutions. Israel was granted observer status in 1996.

Also of note: On 9/1, pro-Palestinian activists in London, in an act of nonviolent protest against Israel, repeatedly interrupted a live 75th anniversary performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to the point that BBC had to cut off its live broadcast.

The EU largely restricted its participation in the peace process this quarter to the Quartet, with EU foreign policy dir. Ashton making a strong effort to urge Abbas and Netanyahu to pursue the exploratory talks held throughout 1/2012 in Jordan (see “Jordan Hosts Israeli-Palestinian ‘Exploratory Talks’” above). In the only other direct intervention, EU member states surprised and angered Israel at the UNSC by issuing (12/20) a rare joint statement strongly criticizing the U.S. for blocking a statement condemning Israeli settlement expansion and increasing settlement violence (see “United Nations” below).

Though the EU kept a generally low profile, EU envoys in the region were clearly active in monitoring conditions on the ground and advocating a stronger European stand against Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians, to the extent of urging a greater and stronger European role in the peace process. Though no official EU decisions were taken in this regard, the picture emerged through 3 internal EU documents leaked to the press this quarter that further angered Israel:

• In a 16-page report dated 7/2011 and leaked ca. 1/12 (see Doc. A2), EU envoys said that Israeli actions in Area C, the 62% of the West Bank under full Israeli security and civilian control, were “closing the window” on the 2-state solution and undermining the peace process by allowing extensive settlement expansion, obstructing Palestinian movement and access, destroying Palestinian civilian property, undermining Palestinian economic development, and hindering delivery of humanitarian aid. The report especially urged the EU to be more vocal in raising objections to “involuntary population movements, displacements, evictions and internal migration” forced by Israel.

• An EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem dated 2011, leaked ca. 1/17 (see Doc. A3), similarly criticized escalating settlement activity in the city for undermining the 2-state solution. It also urged the EU to consider legislation “to prevent/discourage financial transactions in support of settlement activity.”

• An EU working paper reportedly urged Brussels to “consider Israel’s treatment of its Arab population a ‘core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’” and to take a stronger stand against mistreatment of Israeli Palestinians. The 27-page document, sent to Brussels in 11/2011, was not leaked in full, but excerpts were published in the press in 12/2011 (see the article by Barak Ravid titled “Secret EU Paper Aims to Tackle Israel’s Treatment of Arab Minority” in the Selections from the Press section in this issue).

The EU largely limited its involvement on the Israel-Palestine issue to the Quartet this quarter, focusing instead on issues related to Iran and the Arab Spring.

Of note: EU foreign policy adviser Catherine Ashton, speaking (3/20) at a conference on Palestinian refugees in Brussels, expressed condolences for a 3/19 attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, and regret over recent tragedies worldwide that had resulted in child casualties, citing among them recent Israeli air strikes on Gaza (3/9–12) that wounded 14 Palestinian children. Israeli PM Netanyahu denounced (3/20) her for making “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and defensive, surgical actions.” Ashton’s spokesman issued (3/20) a statement saying that her words had been “grossly distorted.”

On a bilateral level: Israel and Italy reached (2/16) a $1-b. agreement for Israel to purchase 30 M-346 training jets to replace the Israeli air force’s aging training fleet of U.S. Skyhawks. Italy agreed to reciprocate by purchasing $1 b. in Israeli defense equipment.

Britain’s foreign secy. William Hague met with Israel’s vice PM Dan Meridor on a 2-day official visit to Israel. Talks covered Iran but focused on economic cooperation.

In Toulouse, France, a 24-yr.-old French gunman of Algerian descent, Mohammed Merah, opened fire (3/19) on a Jewish school, killing a rabbi and 4 students (all dual French-Israeli citizens) and wounding another 6 students (1 seriously) before escaping. When Merah on 3/21 claimed responsibilities for the school killings as well as those of 2 French soldiers several days before, he said he had acted to protest French intervention in Afghanistan and to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children killed by the IDF in Gaza. Before jumping to his death from an apartment building in a stand-off with police, he claimed to have received alQa‘ida training, but the French authorities believed he acted alone and had no serious links to al-Qa‘ida or other groups.

The EU took no major decisions or action related to the Palestinians or the peace process this quarter. However, Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman went to Brussels on 7/23 for a regular consultation with the EU. He requested that, in light of the 7/18 attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria (see “Iran” section above), the EU add Hizballah to its terrorist list. The EU demurred, stating that there was thus far no proof of Hizballah’s involvement in terror.

During this quarter, the EU was ambivalent regarding the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid, with differences of opinion between member states being exposed. The EU was also lobbied by the U.S. government to oppose the Palestinian initiative on grounds that it would be bad for the peace process (10/1), a concern also expressed (10/11) by the Greek Dep. FM Dimitris Kourkoulas in 10/2012 when he said that the EU was advising the PA to be sure that the UN bid did not damage the peace process (10/11). In late 10/2012, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visited Israel and the West Bank, meeting with Netanyahu and other officials, as well as Fayyad and Abbas (10/23). By 10/30, a PLO official was able to predict at least 12 ‘‘yes’’ votes from EU member states at the UNGA vote in 11/2012.

The EU expressed criticism of Israeli settlement growth on various occasions, typically prompted by announcements of tenders for settlement housing units. Ashton publicly condemned the planned expansion of Har Homa settlement (8/22), as well as the decision to approve 800 new houses in Gilo (10/19) and the publication of tenders for 1,200 new homes in East Jerusalem settlements in Pisgat Ze’ev and Ramot (11/6).

Israel’s announcements about settlement construction and expansion during late 11/2012 and early 12/2012 prompted anger among EU member states. On 12/2, Israeli media reported ‘‘heavy diplomatic pressure’’ from the EU urging Israel to reverse its decision to develop the E1 area outside Jerusalem. On 12/5, the EU summoned Israel’s ambassador, a move repeated individually by Italy, Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, and Denmark. But with the EU divided about how best to respond to Israel’s settlement plans (12/4), the only official public show of displeasure was a statement released by EU foreign ministers (12/10) expressing dismay and opposition to settlement expansion. Sweden’s FM Carl Bildt declared that ‘‘what the Israelis did ... has really shifted things inside the European Union to the extent that I don’t think they really appreciate.’’

Frustration at Israeli policies in the West Bank led to hints this quarter that the EU might be prepared soon to move beyond condemnatory statements. On 12/4, British foreign secretary William Hague said that European sanctions against Israel were not an option, but that further steps would be considered if settlement expansion plans were not rescinded. The same week, senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi wrote (12/6) to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urging action against Israel, including ‘‘reconsidering’’ the EU-Israel Association agreement. Other possible avenues for firmer steps reported this quarter included a blacklist of ‘‘known violent settlers’’ who would be blocked from entering EU member states (11/26) and moves to enforce the labeling of settlement produce (12/10, 2/13).

Though the peace process was frozen, the EU had some involvement with unofficial contacts. In 1/2013, the Jerusalem Post reported (1/8) that informal talks between Israeli and Palestinian academics, public figures, and former military and civil officials had been taking place, often supported by the EU. This so-called Track II diplomacy focused on final-status issues aimed at coming up with suggestions of steps that could be taken by both sides. Also in 1/2013, there were reports (1/13) that the EU was preparing a new plan to restart peace talks, which it intended to present in March, following Israeli elections and the formation of a new govt. The plan was said to include timetables for completing negotiations on core issues during 2013.

During this quarter, the EU expressed concern about ongoing Israeli settlement construction and other occupationrelated policies that had come to dominate public diplomacy with Tel Aviv. Yet, there was still no sign that any serious European move to use sanctions of any sort was imminent. Ashton expressed dismay over specific issues, such as Palestinian prisoner conditions in the context of the long-standing hunger strikes (2/16). As in other quarters, some of the strongest criticism came from the EU’s mission in Ramallah, which leaked (2/27) a report revealing that diplomats had urged Brussels to use economic tools to target Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The recommendations included that the EU ‘‘prevent, discourage, and raise awareness’’ of direct investments by European companies in settlements.

Perhaps more seriously from Israel’s point of view, a 4/20 letter to Ashton from 13 of the 27 EU foreign ministers expressed support for the labeling of products from Israeli settlements and asking the EU foreign policy chief to formulate agreed-upon guidelines. Also in 4/2013, the EU missions in Ramallah and Jerusalem expressed (4/27) serious concern over Israel’s demolition of 22 structures across 8 locations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The EU statement noted that some of the destroyed structures had been funded by member states.

The EU continued to make significant contributions to the PA budget this quarter, including a €20.8 million contribution (made 3/17) toward the 2/2013 payment of salaries and pensions for over 80,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (The funding is channeled through the PEGASE mechanism, an instrument to channel EU and international assistance as a contribution to Palestinian state-building.) Ashton and Fayyad also agreed (3/18) to a new $9 million funding commitment aimed at supporting the Palestinian presence in Area C of the West Bank.

On other regional issues, the EU was undecided about how and to what extent to support the Syrian opposition. On 2/18, EU foreign ministers amended the sanctions regime against Syria to allow for the supply of ‘‘nonlethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians’’—wording intended to further aid rebels (2/18). In 3/2013, Britain and France made efforts to lift an arms embargo that prevented the arming of Syrian rebels in the interests of correcting (to use the 3/11 words of French FM Laurent Fabius) the ‘‘lack of balance’’ between the 2 sides; the proposal was rejected by an EU summit (3/15).

The EU also remained engaged in diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute, with Ashton taking a leading role in talks in Kazakhstan (4/6) and meeting with Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili again on 5/15. In 3/2013, EU foreign ministers tightened the sanctions targeting Iran, adding to the list of individuals with a travel ban and asset freeze, and freezing the assets of 1 company or organization (3/11).

While the EU and Ashton did not depart from long-standing positions such as supporting peace talks and criticizing settlement construction, this quarter was marked by unusual tension between Israel and the EU. Ashton visited Israel and the West Bank on 6/20 as part of a regional tour, meeting with senior officials on both sides. Soon afterward, at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on 6/25 that expressed support for Kerry’s efforts to rekindle direct talks, Ashton made clear that the foreign ministers would not be drafting a res. on the Middle East, seemingly a gesture to Israel that an EU statement would very likely contain substantial criticism of its policies. The next month, however, a significant row broke out when the European Commission published (7/19) new guidelines (see Doc. A2 in this JPS issue) barring EU agencies from funding Israeli entities and activities in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem. The same day, Ashton published a statement clarifying that publication of the guidelines was not intended to undermine Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy, and on 7/23 she was reported to be pushing for the correct labeling of Israeli products originating in the 1967-o.t. In apparent retaliation, Israel reportedly took steps to make it difficult for the EU to work in the oPt, with unnamed Western diplomats claiming that the measures included denying permits for European humanitarian aid staff to enter the Gaza Strip (7/26). By the end of the quarter (8/9), Ashton’s spokesperson, Michael Mann was saying that the EU was ready to hold discussions with Israel clarifying the guidelines and that the European body looked forward to “continued successful EU-Israel cooperation, including in the area of scientific cooperation.”

EU-Israeli relations this quarter were dominated by controversy over new European guidelines restricting funding on projects with Israeli institutions which had ties to settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (see Update in JPS 169). Soon after the release of the guidelines, it became clear that the EU was anxious to minimize their potential impact. On 8/25, at a Jerusalem press conference, visiting French FM Laurent Fabius stated that the guidelines would need to be carefully examined to ensure they did not go beyond what was intended, adding that Israeli officials had repeatedly brought up the issue with him. In response to U.S. calls for the restrictions be postponed to not hinder negotiations, EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton said (9/7) the EU would ensure that the new guidelines would not harm relations with Israel, prompting criticism from Rabbuh (9/9) who berated Kerry’s efforts to pressure the EU into postponing action. A few days later, Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and senior EU officials met in Jerusalem (9/10) to discuss the new guidelines and both sides issued upbeat assessments of how matters were progressing. Israeli and EU officials met again on 9/12, with around a dozen participants from each side holding talks for 7 hours in Brussels. Much of the discussion focused on Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 R&D framework, an initiative considered to be worth preserving in both sides’ interests. All the same, the Palestinian side did receive a boost to its position when 15 former senior European officials—including former French FM Hubert Vedrine, former German Dep. FM Wolfgang Ischinger and former EU Foreign Affairs chief Javier Solana—signed off on a letter urging the EU (9/16) not to soften or delay the implementation of Horizon 2020. (For more information on the guidelines, see Doc. A2 in JPS 169.)

At the beginning of the quarter, the EU finally concluded (11/26) an agreement to allow Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 scientific research project. Following lengthy talks between Livni and Ashton, a compromise was reached with the publication of an appendix confirming that the EU’s funding guidelines approved in 7/2013 rendered entities based in West Bank settlements ineligible, and an accompanying Israeli appendix stating the Israeli govt.’s opposition to those guidelines. Although the move was considered by many in Israel to be indicative of a growing chill in relations with the EU, it actually pointed to Brussels’s desire to increase cooperation with Israel, which required a solution to the legalities surrounding settlements and settlement trade. A res. passed by EU FMs 10 days later (12/7) seemed to confirm this view as it offered Israel and the Palestinians “Special Privileged Partnership” status if the 2 sides could reach a final status agreement. This incentive to reach a peace deal, including a significant amount of economic, political, and security-related aid, was designed to boost Kerry’s diplomatic initiative, as well as show the EU’s commitment to a permanent agreement between the 2 sides.

Nevertheless, there was continued disquiet among EU officials over Israeli policies, especially settlement construction as expressed by Ashton who spoke about her “deep concern” following Israeli announcements of new settlement homes (e.g., 11/1 and 2/6).

Meanwhile, there were anonymous briefings and reports of further EU measures targeting settlement trade in the event of the talks collapsing or Israeli settlement construction continuing unabated. An unnamed official briefed the Israeli media on 12/4 about significant support amongst EU mbr. states (estimated 14 of 28) for the labelling of settlement goods. Another rumored step ready to be rolled out by the EU Commission concerned guidelines for businesses about the risks of trading with settlement-based entities. In light of these reports, as well as measures being initiated by European investment bodies (see BDS section below), the president of the EU parliament, Martin Schulz, on a visit to Israel felt the need to emphasize (2/12) the EU’s opposition to boycotts.

The EU also maintained its key role within the Quartet as Ashton chaired a meeting (2/1) of senior officials from the group on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference that took place 1/31-2/2/2014.

After the tension last quarter over the territorial clause in the Horizon 2020 agreement, excluding Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem from eligibility for EU grants, the official EU rhetoric during this quarter emphasized instead the mutual benefits of cooperation. On 2/19 during a visit to Brussels, Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett held talks with European Parliament Pres. Martin Schulz just 1 week after the minister had slammed the German official for his Knesset address. On 3/17, foreign affairs chief Ashton affirmed Brussels’s opposition to a blanket boycott of all Israeli goods, and stressed the promise of “unprecedented” support for both Israel and a future state of Palestine in the event of a two-state solution agreement (a reference to the Special Privilege Partnership proposal). Ashton said the EU did not want “to see Israel isolated.” A week later, the EU’s Amb. to Israel Lars Faaborg-Anderson claimed (3/24) that the EU could provide financial compensation for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to assist “the implementation of any final peace agreement.” This was the 1st time a senior EU official had publicly made such an offer.

Despite such diplomatic moves to ease tensions, the EU took issue with Israel on numerous questions. On 3/21, a European Parliament Ad Hoc Delegation to the oPt said the Israeli authorities had refused to cooperate with their mission. The delegation had traveled to Israel to assess the conditions of Palestinian prisoners, but was unable to fulfil its mandate. On 3/22, Ashton expressed disappointment over Israeli settlement expansion, and urged a stop to construction plans. She repeated similar sentiments on 4/18, expressing “great concern” over an Israeli decision to declare an area of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc state land.

Also in 3/2014, a leaked internal report (3/28) by EU diplomats in Ramallah and Jerusalem warned of the possibility of regional instability should clashes at Haram al-Sharif escalate. The report also described how Israeli policies in East Jerusalem such as restrictions on freedom of movement and access to housing are infringing on the rights of its Palestinian residents. After talks broke down, EU FMs issued (5/12) a statement of concern about recent developments in Israel and the oPt, but their meeting in Brussels focused primarily on the Ukrainian crisis. The ministers said that the “extensive efforts deployed in recent mos. must not go to waste,” and also urged “all sides to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any unilateral action that may further undermine peace efforts and the viability of a two-state solution, such as continued settlement expansion.” This latter reference, it was noted by Israeli commentators, was not accompanied by any parallel warning to the Palestinians about a specific policy deemed to be unhelpful.

There was no significant new EU initiative with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this quarter and official reactions to events on the ground consisted of statements rather than any involvement of substance.

The EU welcomed the formation of the Palestinian unity govt., and its foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton hailed the move (6/4) as an “important step.” She added that the EU’s “engagement with the new Palestinian govt.” would be based on the latter’s adherence to “policies and commitments” that had long shaped EU and Quartet demands regarding Palestinian political representation: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements.

After the disappearance of the 3 teenage settlers (6/12) and the subsequent IDF crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, the EU condemned (6/28) the incident and also urged Israel to operate with restraint in its search for the missing youths and their abductors. After the launch of OPE in Gaza, the EU’s response continued in the same vein. Ashton’s office issued a statement on 7/8 condemning the “indiscriminate fire” by Gaza-based “militant groups” but also deploring “the growing number of civilian casualties, reportedly among them children, caused by Israeli retaliatory fire.” A statement published on 7/22 after a meeting of the 28 EU FMs in Brussels was much more sympathetic to Israel: the statement condemned “the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip” as “criminal and unjustifiable acts” that were “directly harming civilians.” Perhaps more significantly, the statement repeated the Israeli claim that Hamas was calling on civilians “to provide themselves as human shields.” (See document A1 for the full text.) Following the FM’s meeting, Ashton told a press conference that Israel’s attacks must be “proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law,” and she condemned “the loss of hundreds of civilian lives, among them many women and children.”

As OPE continued into 8/2014, the EU floated a specific suggestion as part of a comprehensive cease-fire deal, namely the reactivation of the EU Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah Crossing Point (EUBAM; see Documents and Source Material in JPS 144). In the press release issued after the meeting of the FMs Council held in Brussels on 8/15, the EU said it was prepared “to play a strong role” in managing the crossings while guaranteeing Israel’s security. Speaking on behalf of the assembled diplomats, Ashton said a return to the pre-OPE status quo was “not an option.”

Having offered Israel arguably critical support during OPE, there was frustration in Brussels as Israeli settlement construction announcements unfolded thick and fast on the heels of the 50- day war. On 9/2, EU foreign policy chief Ashton released a statement, condemning the expropriation of land nr. Bethlehem furthering settlement expansion, saying that “at this delicate moment,” any action that undermines stability “should be avoided.” UK Foreign Secy. Philip Hammond said his country deplored the step, which he described as “a particularly ill-judged decision” that would “do serious damage to Israel’s standing in the international community” (1/9). With no prospects for a reactivation of the peace process, Israeli announcements such as those provoked increasingly harsh rhetoric in Brussels. After plans were advanced for 1,060 new housing units in the East Jerusalem settlements of Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa, Ashton said the decision once again called “into serious question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated solution with the Palestinians” (10/27).

While the EU and its mbr. states remained fully committed to a negotiated 2-state solution, impatience at the lack of a breakthrough— coupled with the open rejection of Palestinian statehood by several mbrs. of the Israeli govt.— meant that there were signs of support for Palestinian unilateral measures. On 9/19, French Pres. Hollande declared that a “solution to the conflict” between the Israelis and Palestinians would be put to the UNSC. In remarks at a press conference alongside Pres. Abbas in Paris, Hollande said that even though the outlines of a possible deal were known, negotiations had gone on “too long.” Meanwhile, the Swedish govt. officially recognized the state of Palestine (10/30), with FM Margot Wallström declaring that other EU states might well follow its lead. On 10/13, MPs in the British Parliament urged the govt. to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” as part of a “contribution to securing a negotiated 2-state solution.” The vote, while symbolic, passed 274–12.

Continued impatience with the absence of progress on a negotiated resolution of the conflict as well as frustration over Israel’s ongoing settlement construction were reflected in a number of European measures in support of Palestinians’ unilateral actions this quarter. France stood out in this regard, launching (11/28) a major campaign of its own around the UNSC draft res. (see “The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” above). Ahead of the council’s vote on 12/30, a number of Western European legislatures endorsed the Palestinian bid for statehood.

Following in the footsteps of the UK and Sweden in the previous quarter, when an overwhelming majority of MPs in the British Parliament urged (10/13) their govt. to recognize Palestine, and Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine (10/30), this quarter legislative measures calling for the recognition of Palestine were passed by Spain (11/18), Portugal (12/2), Ireland (12/9), Luxembourg (12/17), the EU (12/17), and France (12/2 and 12/11), albeit with varying impact depending on the conditions and restrictions attached (see Chronology for details). PA Pres. Abbas traveled to Sweden on a state visit (2/10), meeting with PM Stefan Löfven and inaugurating a full-fledged Palestinian Embassy in Stockholm.

In parallel to the Europeans’ growing impatience and frustration with the stalled peace process, this quarter saw growing tension between Brussels and Tel Aviv over the occupation and settlements. Around the same time that the Obama admin. was reportedly considering escalating its response to continued settlement expansion (see “United States” above), an internal EU document published by Haaretz revealed (11/17) that EU mbr. states were studying sanctions against Israel to impel Tel Aviv to end settlement policies widely regarded as an impediment to a 2-state solution (see Doc. A2 for details). Haaretz quoted senior EU diplomats as saying that “a large group of mbr. states pushed for this move after the failure of the talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and after the war in Gaza.” According to the diplomats, several mbr. states behind the move were happy to allow the EU foreign affairs apparatus to play “bad cop” while preserving their individual relationships with Israel. That same day, in the 1st meeting of the EU Council under the chairmanship of the incoming foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, all 28 FMs released a statement expressing concern about the simmering tension in Jerusalem and censuring continued settlement growth in the city. Speaking to the press, Mogherini said the council had not discussed the document in question and she dismissed it as “hypothetical and internal.” Later in the quarter, 63 of the 751 mbrs. of the European parliament sent Mogherini a letter asking her to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement governing the 2 sides’ trade relationship since 2000 (see Doc. A3), citing Israeli violations of international law during OPE as well as support from civil society, including that of some 300 European organizations that had made a similar plea to the EU in 11/2013.

There were 2 other noteworthy incidents concerning the EU-Israel relationship this quarter: First, the Gen. Court of the EU removed Hamas from its list of designated terrorist organizations on 12/17. The ruling was on procedural grounds, and it was in response to a petition submitted to the European Court of Human Rights. According to the court, the initial designation in 2001 was based on media reports rather than an official internal review, as required by EU policy. Later, the EU Council agreed (1/19) to appeal the court’s decision even though there was no indication that the ruling would lead to a change in official policy on Hamas. Second, in response to a report published in the UK’s Daily Mail (2/5), Israeli PM Netanyahu ordered the demolition of around 400 Palestinian-owned and EU-funded structures in the West Bank. The newspaper alleged that EU-funded projects had not always secured correct permits from Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT).

Like the U.S., the EU this quarter was largely focused on talks with Iran over its nuclear power program. However, frustration with Israel and Netanyahu’s settlement policies grew, especially in the wake of the 3/17 Israeli election, and there were several indications that the EU was preparing a renewed push to return Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table.

Last quarter, several EU mbrs.—particularly France—had worked with the Palestinians to introduce a UNSC res. setting parameters for a new round of peace negotiations and a timetable on the Israeli occupation. Seizing the apparent opportunity offered by the Obama admin.’s yet undefined “reassessment” of its policy on Israel, the EU and some of its mbrs. renewed their efforts in hopes that the U.S. would not veto a similar res. to the one brought before the UNSC in 12/2014. In the immediate aftermath of the Israeli election, foreign policy chief Mogherini said (3/18) the EU was “committed to working with the incoming Israeli govt. on a mutually beneficial relationship as well as on the re-launch of the peace process” (see “The Israeli Election” above).

Although it did not publicize any details, a series of reports and related announcements made clear how the EU planned to go forward. On 3/15, it appointed a new chief envoy to the peace process, Fernando Gentilini, after the post had remained vacant since Andreas Reinicke’s term ended in 6/2013. Also, after the French announced that they were embarking on a new initiative to gather support for a UNSC res. on 3/27, the EU amb. to Israel, Lars FaaborgAndersen, expressed (3/29) the bloc’s support in principle for the UNSC track. As in the past, however, efforts originating in the EU’s foreign policy apparatus were heavily focused on Israeli settlements. An EU official told Yedioth Ahronoth on 3/25 that “if Israel continues its policy beyond the Green Line, it will affect the relationship between European nations and Israel.” Two days later, EU officials said the bloc was considering new restrictions on the purchase of products made in Israeli settlements as a way to push the Israelis into returning to negotiations. Faaborg-Andersen, however, signaled that policy changes were not imminent, adding (3/29) that the implementation of any strategy would be based on the policies of the new Netanyahu govt. At the end of the quarter, the European envoy to the Palestinian territories, John Gatt-Rutter, said (5/12) the EU was planning to launch a “kind of political dialogue between the Palestinians and Israel” in the coming mos. Such comments aligned with the U.S. stance to delay launching any new initiatives at least until Netanyahu had formed a ruling coalition.

Meanwhile, EU frustration with Israeli actions appeared to mount. On 4/16, in a letter leaked to Haaretz, 16 of the EU’s 28 FMs called for uniform labeling of produce originating in Israeli settlements as “an important step in the full implementation of EU longstanding policy, in relation to the preservation of the 2-state solution.” The call for settlement produce labeling echoed similar efforts by the EU Council in 5/2012, 12/2012, and 11/2014 as well as a similar letter written to Mogherini’s predecessor in 4/2013, which prompted then-Israeli FM Lieberman to say (4/17), “It seems some European nations now want to put a yellow patch on Israeli products.” Several EU officials also expressed (4/24) concerns to their Israeli counterparts in response to proposals being debated in the Israeli coalition-building process about reducing the power of the traditionally centrist or left-leaning Supreme Court. Four days later, 59 mbrs. of the EU parliament called for the release of Palestinian MP Jarrar (see “Palestinian Prisoners” above). After the Jerusalem municipal govt. approved the construction of 900 new settler residences in East Jerusalem on 5/6, EU spokesperson Katherine Ray said (5/7) that it called “into question [Israel’s] commitment to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.”

There were 2 other noteworthy developments involving the EU in 3/2015. At the UNHRC meeting on 3/23, EU reps. called on Israel to allow UN Special Rapporteur Makarim Wibisono into Gaza to investigate claims of human rights violations during OPE. Separately, an EU spokesperson said (3/27) that while the General Court’s 12/17/2014 removal of Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations on procedural grounds was being appealed (see JPS 175), the designation would continue to attach to the group.

Labeling Israeli Settlement Produce

Although the EU was largely focused on the nuclear negotiations with Iran this quarter (see “Iran” above), European frustration with settlement growth under Netanyahu led to a renewed push to label produce originating in Israeli settlements. The proposal had been on the table for several years and was deferred in 2013 at the request of Kerry, then trying to build confidence for a return to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations (see JPS 43[3]). Mbrs. of the EU Council had called for labeling in 5/2012, 12/2012, and 11/2014, and 16 of the EU’s 28 FMs renewed the call in 4/2015 (see JPS 44[4]). Early this quarter, EU foreign policy chief Mogherini told (5/18) a meeting of the EU Council that she intended to pursue the labeling initiative and publish a directive soon, and she reportedly discussed the initiative with Netanyahu (5/20) during her visit to Israel. As momentum began to build, the Israeli govt. organized an EU-wide effort to stop or delay the initiative. On 6/7, Haaretz reported that the 3 Israeli officials involved in the campaign said their efforts centered on persuading at least 4 of the 7-mbr. European Commission, the EU’s executive body, to vote against the directive. But with no progress made on restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in the intervening 2 months, “senior levels” of the European Commission approved the preparation of a technical guidance document to facilitate the implementation of a labeling directive. On 7/19, the Financial Times quoted a senior EU diplomat as saying, “We will finally see this emerge,” and others close to the process predicted that Mogherini’s directive would be out by the end of 2015.

Near the end of the quarter, the produce– labeling initiative gained additional support from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), an influential think tank with offices across Europe. In a report on EU policy toward Israel published on 7/22 (see Doc. R4), the ECFR supported labeling of settlement produce and proposed a number of other measures designed to curb settlement growth, including sanctions against Israeli banks. Illustrating the organization’s clout, the stock prices of 4 Israeli banks fell precipitously within hours of the report’s publication, causing a senior EU official to clarify that the EU had “no intention of imposing restrictions on Israeli banks.”

A New Cypriot Initiative

As the EU moved forward with the settlement produce-labeling initiative and individual mbr.- states pursued multilateral efforts aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations (see “The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict” above), Cyprus’s Pres. Nicos Anastasiades made substantial progress on a new, complementary enterprise. The Cypriot pres. met with Rivlin (6/14) and Netanyahu (6/15) in Israel to discuss issues of mutual interest, including development of natural gas fields in the e. Mediterranean. According to a senior Israeli official, Anastasiades told Netanyahu that EU leaders were receiving information about the situation in Israel and the oPt through the “filters” of FMs who visited the region, and he reportedly suggested “that you and Abbas come [to Brussels] and present your positions directly to all the leaders of the mbr.-states” (Haaretz, 6/29). After discussing the idea with Abbas (6/19) and EU pres. Donald Tusk (6/24), both of whom were receptive, and following the approval of both Mogherini and Egypt’s Pres. al-Sisi, Anastasiades confirmed Abbas’s and Netanyahu’s interest on 6/26. On 7/28, Netanyahu formally accepted Anastasiades’s proposal during a trip to Cyprus, and PA sources reported that the Cypriot pres. had expanded the idea into a larger European-Cypriot initiative to restart peace negotiations. According to the same sources, Anastasiades discussed his new idea with Abbas by phone on 7/27, proposing an end-of-the-year deadline for its implementation and emphasizing that it would not replace the French initiative (see “A UNSC Resolution” above).

In 1/2017, Netanyahu proposed to his cabinet that Israel join “Creative Europe,” an EU cultural and media initiative and grant-making organization, according to a Haaretz report on 1/29. Finance Min. Kahlon, Economy Min. Eli Cohen, and Culture and Sports Min. Regev were all in favor of the move, which would require Israel spending €1 m. (around $1.069 m.) to participate. Hours later, Regev issued a statement withdrawing her support as it transpired that the program excluded West Bank settlements. The proposal was then removed from the cabinet’s meeting agenda for that night.

Marking the latest EU-Israeli conflict over Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property, the EU’s Amb. to Israel Lars FaaborgAndersen had a reportedly tense meeting with the new dir.-gen. of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Yuval Rotem, in late 3/2017. “Immediately after the meeting began, Faaborg-Andersen announced that he was taking advantage of [it] to deliver a message that had been approved by the EU’s security and diplomacy commission, on which all 28 mbr. states are represented” (Haaretz, 4/4). The document described Israel as an “occupying power” and demanded an end to Israeli demolitions in Area C of the West Bank (see “Demolitions and Displacement” above), especially in the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, where Israeli forces issued more than 40 demolition orders on 2/19 (see Chronology for details). “The practice of enforcement measures such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions, and confiscations of homes and humanitarian assets (including EU-funded), and the obstruction of delivery of humanitarian assistance are contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law, including in particular provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention . . . and cause suffering to ordinary Palestinians,” the document read. After news reports of the meeting surfaced, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the EU’s dep. amb. for clarification and a ministry spokesperson reaffirmed that “in Israel, illegal construction is dealt with according to the law.”

Following persistent reports of Israeli forces confiscating EU-funded construction materials and demolishing EU-supported infrastructure projects in the West Bank, 8 European govts. signed onto a letter demanding that the Israeli govt. pay them more than €30,000 (approx. $35,400) in compensation, according to Palestinian and EU officials (10/19). The Belgian govt. reportedly orchestrated the effort, with France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, and Denmark participating. European diplomats coordinated the measure after their Israeli counterparts rejected an informal request for compensation during a meeting in 9/2017. The Israelis reportedly argued that the Europeans were facilitating illegal development in Area C of the West Bank, and that their support did not constitute humanitarian aid (Haaretz, 10/19).

Days after Trump’s 12/6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Netanyahu left Israel for Europe where he was scheduled to meet with Macron and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. “I will not accept a double standard from them,” he told reporters. “I hear voices condemning Trump [over Jerusalem] but not for rocket fire [from Gaza into Israel]. I will not accept this hypocrisy.” Netanyahu met with the French president (12/10) and the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy (12/11) before returning home. Later in December, the Knesset voted to join the EU’s Cross-Border Cooperation in the Mediterranean (ENI CBC MED), which provides tens of millions of euros to publicprivate economic development projects in Mediterranean Basin countries not in the EU (Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine, as well as certain Syrian “nonstate” actors). However, as the multilateral agreement contains a provision that excludes Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in effect Israel had agreed to a boycott of settlements, Haaretz reported on 12/31/2017. Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) later claimed that she was misled and that she would have blocked the measure had she known.

In a related development, the Danish parliament voted (1/26) in favor of a resolution strengthening government guidelines for public-private investment in projects in the oPt and excluding Israel’s settlements from any future bilateral agreements. The thirteen extant Danish-Israeli agreements were also subject to renegotiation to bring them in line with this new policy. The vote, which overwhelmingly passed with the support of all parties except the far-right Danish People’s Party, came a month after Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced new, tougher restrictions on Danish support for Palestinian NGOs, following a months-long Israeli diplomatic campaign against Danish funding for Palestinian NGOs.

As Israel met the protests in Gaza with lethal fire (see “The Great March of Return” above), the Israeli press reported (4/16) that a number of “European groups” had put forth the outlines of a possible “cease-fire” agreement. These were reported to have offered to facilitate the creation of an EU institution that would pay the salaries of Gaza’s civil servants in exchange for Hamas renouncing armed struggle against Israel for at least five years. Hamas’s response was not made public, and there was no further action reported.

With the EU scrambling to preserve the JCPOA and pushing for Israel to cancel its plans to evacuate and demolish the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar (see “Iran” and “Demolitions and Displacement” above), European-Israeli relations deteriorated this quarter. After EU foreign policy chief Mogherini cancelled (6/8) her planned appearance at a conference in Jerusalem on 6/10, citing undisclosed “agenda reasons,” the Israeli press reported that the real reason was that PM Netanyahu had refused her request for a meeting. “She was invited by the American Jewish Committee for their conference, and not by Israel,” one senior Israeli diplomatic official explained (6/8). “Her positions are very hostile to Israel.”

                In August, the European Union (EU) released its “Six-Month Report on Demolitions and Confiscations of EU funded structures in the West Bank including East Jerusalem” which found that over 197 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished between January and June 2018, 26 were funded by the EU or EU member states and were valued at $69,381. The report also voiced concern for Khan al-Ahmar which is under demolition risk (see Palestinian-Israeli Conflict). Later in September the EU passed a resolution urging Israel not the demolish Khan al-Ahmar after the Israeli High Court of Justice had rejected a partition from the residents of the Bedouin village not to demolish and relocate its residents. The EU warned that demolishing Khan al-Ahmar would be a grave breach of international humanitarian law, citing the Fourth Geneva Convention. It also stated that Israel would be responsible for compensating the EU-funded infrastructure in Khan al-Ahmar were they to demolish the village, a compensation that would be around $358,400. Lastly, it called for Israel to reverse its settlement policy. After the EU resolution passed, 8 EU countries demanded compensation of $35,000 for EU-funded structures that Israel had demolished in the West Bank. The demand was conveyed to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an official letter from Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, and Denmark.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

                On 22 January, a representative from the European Union (EU) addressed the United Nations (UN) Security Council about the EU’s concern of the escalation of violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the increase in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and the evictions of Palestinians in Shaykh Jarrah and Khan al-Ahmar. The representative also criticized the cuts in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). While the U.S. was not explicitly mentioned in the address, it was undoubtedly a rebuke of the U.S. policy of cutting all aid to UNRWA (see United States). Lastly, the EU representative stressed that the current situation in the conflict is not a status quo, as the gradual increase of settlements in the West Bank impedes a 2-state solution. The EU also contributed with $107 million to UNRWA this quarter (see Donors).


East Jerusalem

                The EU criticized Israel’s extension of the ban on Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem in a statement. The statement said, “there is a strong need for such institutions, which should be allowed to function as focal points for Palestinians in East Jerusalem.” “This is a key concern for the EU, as the lack of Palestinian institutional presence in East Jerusalem continues to negatively affect the political, economic, social and cultural life of Palestinians living there, as well as the security situation on the ground.”

                On 25 February, the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned in a statement the eviction of a Palestinian family from their home in East Jerusalem and their replacement by Israeli settlers. The statement also criticized plans for similar evictions in Shaykh Jarrah, Silwan, Bayt Safafa, and the Old City, along with Israel’s settlement policy in general. “The policy of settlement construction and expansion, including in East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law, and its continuation undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect of a lasting peace.”


Israeli Tax Deductions

                The EU also criticized Israel’s decision to deduct $138 million from the tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israel has argued that the $138 million is used to pay Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and their families. An EU representative said that Israel’s unilateral decision contravenes signed agreements and that the tax revenue should be transferred in full to the PA.


Visegrad Summit

                The leaders of 3 EU countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia announced in meetings held in Israel with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they would open diplomatic offices in Jerusalem. The 3 countries’ leaders were in Israel for the Visegrad Summit; the Visegrad group is a cultural and political alliance comprising the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The summit, however, was canceled after Poland withdrew due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comment, a week prior to the planned summit, that “Poles cooperated with the Nazis” in Poland. The foreign minister of the Czech Republic later in February reaffirmed the country’s commitment to UN resolutions on Jerusalem, saying that the Czech Republic ultimately would not move its embassy to Jerusalem.


Golan Heights

                On 21 March, U.S. president Donald Trump announced that his administration “fully recognize[s] Israel’s Sovereignty [sic] over the Golan Heights” via Twitter (see United States). The EU subsequently released a statement emphasizing that their position had not changed in light of the U.S. policy change.

               On 13 June, the European Union (EU)’s advocate general Gerald Hogan made a non-binding legal recommendation to the European Court of Justice stipulating that the court “should rule that EU law requires for a product originating in a territory occupied by Israel since 1967, the indication of the geographical name of this territory and the indication that the product comes from an Israeli settlement if that is the case.” Advocate General Hogan’s recommendation raises ethical considerations about consumers’ rights to boycott and compares these to apartheid South Africa.

               The EU condemned Israel on 29 June for issuing tenders for 805 settlement units in East Jerusalem, calling the new settlement units an “obstacle to peace.”

               The European Union (EU) on several occasions this quarter criticized Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and settlement expansion. An issue that the EU was particularly critical of was the Sur Bahir demolition of 70 apartments in 10 buildings, which overlaps between East Jerusalem and Areas A and B of the West Bank. The EU reaffirmed its position that such demolitions are illegal under international law and pointed out that areas A and B are under PA control in terms of civil issues as agreed to under the Oslo Accords.

               The EU also, along with the United Kingdom and the United Nations, condemned Israel’s plans to expand 4 settlements in the West Bank, creating a total of 2,304 housing units for Israeli settlers. An official statement from the EU said that “[a]ll settlement activity is illegal under international law.” The EU simultaneously pointed out that Israel denies Palestinians the right to housing development.

               By the end of the quarter, the EU mission to Israel in Tel Aviv was vandalized by right-wing Israeli activists. The activists wrote “EU GET OUT,” “GERMAN MONEY KILL JEWS,” and spilled red paint in the lobby of the mission. The vandalizing was headed by a prominent Israeli activist, Sheffi Paz, tied to the Yamina party and its leader Ayelet Shaked.

Quarterly Updates for (1 Jan 1970 — 1 Jan 1970)

EU members were a focus of Israeli and Palestinian lobbying this quarter, particularly regarding the issue of recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN in 9/2011. Israel lobbied the EU hard to block the British-French-German initiative to put forward a Quartet initiative to relaunch the peace process, to withhold EU support for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, and to oppose Palestinian efforts to achieve recognition of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians, meanwhile, lobbied for the opposite. Most of the contacts were bilateral, between Israel and the PA and individual EU states.