Israeli President Shimon Peres on Thursday urged the European Union to delay its decision to put in place new guidelines which specify that all future EU funding agreements with Israeli entities should exclude those in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
“The relations between Israel and the European Union are friendly and I have great respect for the European Union – I turn to our friends in Europe and say, “Wait with your decision – make peace a priority. Don’t put in place irresponsible sanctions which will damage the peace process,’’ he said in a statement to the press.
Peres called the EU decision ‘’unnecessary and untimely.’’ ‘’The issues are complex and sensitive, delay your decision, ” he stressed, adding: “Make peace the priority and give it a chance, your decision could lead to another crisis in our region.”
He also noted that US Secretary of State John Kerry has made real progress during his current visit to the region in his efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.
It’s the first time that the Israeli President was so sharply critical towards the EU.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also made attempts to freeze the publication of the new EU funding guidelines.
Netanyahu spoke with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, to express his concerns, warning that the guidelines would hinder Kerry’s peace efforts.
He requested that the guidelines be suspended and not included, as planned, in the EU’s journal which will be published on Friday. Should this formal publication of the guidelines take place, it would require the consensus of all EU member states to rescind them.
According to the EU Commission, Barroso ‘’explained the context and the objectives of the guidelines restricting funding for Israeli entities beyond Green Line’’ He reportedly said that the guidelines did not represent a shift in the EU position and that the EU intention was to continue the EU-Israel cooperation ‘’within its internationally recognized borders.’’
Barroso was also quoted as saying that ‘’following a request from Israeli authorities the EU stands ready to engage in consultations on the implementation of the guidelines.
The guidelines are expected to be published in the EU journal on Friday and will come into effect on January 1, 2014.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who also heads Israel’s peace efforts, spoke with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and similarly requested a suspension on the publication of the guidelines on the grounds that it would hamper efforts to re-start peace talks.
She argued that border negotiations must be left to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Livni is also reported to have met with the European Union Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Andreas Reineke.