BRUSSELS (JTA) – In a move that entrenches European Union (EU) disapproval of Israeli settlements, its 28 foreign ministers said all agreements with Israel must state they do not apply to these disputed areas.
The statement Monday by the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which is made up of the foreign ministers of the member states, says the European Union has a “commitment to ensure” that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”
The final wording is a softened version of a draft that read: “The EU will continue to unequivocally and explicitly make the distinction between Israel and all territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” the news site Euobserver.com reported.
Also, the final version softens criticism of Israeli plans to crack down on foreign-funded organizations by forcing them to disclose funding.
The published text also speaks of “the importance of unhindered work of civil society” in Israel. The earlier version spoke of “attempts to stifle civil society.”
In the statement, Hamas is accused of perpetrating rocket attacks against civilians. EU countries “will consider further action in order to protect the viability of the two-state solution,” it also said.
Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, accused the European Union of being one-sided. The statement, she said, will have “the opposite effect that they aimed to achieve.”
Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog said the European Union had “enlisted to help the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.”
“They don’t distinguish between legitimate settlement blocs and isolated outposts, and that’s a gross injustice,” Herzog said.