Israel blocks EU projects in West Bank

 

 

Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

 

 

JERUSALEM | Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:27pm EDT

(Reuters) – Israel has blocked the European Union from aiding tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, in retaliation for an EU ban on financial assistance to Israeli organizations in the occupied territories.

The EU imposed its restrictions last week, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War. The new guidelines render Israeli entities operating there ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.

An Israeli official said on Friday the Jewish state was compelled to respond to the EU’s decision “to sanction or boycott the settlements”.

“From our standpoint we cannot just ignore this or treat spitting in our face as though it is rain,” the official said.

Settler leaders say the aid they receive from Europe is minimal. But many in Israel worry about knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.

 

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Israel freezes co-operation with EU in Palestinian territories

Move follows European Union directive banning funding for bodies linked with Israeli settlements

West Bank settlement

Construction work at the Ariel settlement in the West Bank. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Israel has frozen co-operation with the European Union on work in the Palestinian territories in retaliation for an EU directive banning funding or grants for bodies with links to Israeli settlements.

The move, authorised by the defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, affects all projects requiring permits from the Civil Administration, which governs Area C, the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control; access of EU diplomats and representatives to Area C and Gaza; and joint meetings.

No permits have been issued to EU humanitarian aid workers to enter Gaza for several days, according to a western diplomatic source.

“We are freezing the relationship on everything,” said an Israeli official. “We did this as soon as we heard [about the directive]. We can’t act like nothing happened.”

The EU provides aid and equipment to Palestinian communities in Area C, many of whom are threatened with displacement and the demolition of their homes, animal shelters and other structures. The EU also helps train Palestinian security forces.

 

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