In retaliatory measure, Israel nixing West Bank projects with EU

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will refuse to cooperate with the European Union in West Bank areas under Israeli control in retaliation for the EU’s new guidelines concerning the occupied territories.

Under the orders of Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, the Israel Defense Forces’ civil administration will stop cooperating with the European Union on joint projects to benefit the Palestinians.

The decision to cease cooperation with the EU in Area C of the West Bank was first reported on Hebrew news websites in Israel on Thursday and confirmed by The Jerusalem Post the following day.

Under the orders, no travel documents will be issued or renewed for EU personnel to travel to the West Bank or Gaza.

Projects that will suffer include a program to train Palestinian Authority police officers as well as a waste removal program, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told Reuters that the EU has not received any “official communication” from Israel regarding the orders.

The orders come less than two weeks after the European Commission announced new guidelines making Israeli entities and activities in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights ineligible for EU grants and prizes.

The guidelines are a follow-up to a decision made by the foreign ministers of EU member states at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Dec. 10 in which they said that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the European Union must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”