New guidelines make West Bank entities ineligible for EU grants

JERUSALEM (JTA) –  Israeli entities and activities in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are ineligible for European Union grants and prizes under new guidelines adopted by the European Commission.

The guidelines adopted on June 30, set out in a statement issued Tuesday by the European Union embassy in Israel, are from the European Commission to its departments.

They relate to all “grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU” beginning in 2014. Some of the grants are being negotiated.

“The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support,” the statement said.

According to the statement, 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.”

The guidelines are not binding on the member states, only on the departments of the European Commission, David Kriss, the EU spokesman in Israel, told JTA.

Kriss said, however, that they were issued “in the same spirit” as the Foreign Affairs Council decision. He added that the statement announcing the adoption of the guidelines also includes “the message that the EU is interested in signing agreements with Israel.”

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin told Army Radio, “I think the Europeans are making a mistake, especially at this time, and giving a tailwind to Palestinian intransigence.”

European Jewish Congress President  Moshe Kantor said the guidelines would further complicate bringing the Palestinians and Israel back to the peace negotiating table.

The guidelines will be published Friday in the in the official EU journal.