The European Union expressed concern Friday over Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s decision to stop IDF cooperation with European Union officials in parts of the West Bank, and to prevent EU representatives from entering the Gaza Strip via Israel.
“The EU is concerned over reports in the Israeli media that the defense minister has announced a series of restrictions affecting the Union’s actions to support the Palestinian people,” said a spokesperson for EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton.
The spokesperson went on to claim that the EU had not received any official notice from Israeli authorities regarding the planned measures.
“A delegation is working [in Israel] to attain these urgent updates,” the spokesperson added.
Ya’alon’s orders were an apparent response to new EU guidelines published last week that explicitly ban the funding of and cooperation with Israeli institutions operating beyond the Green Line.
A Western diplomat who requested anonymity remarked that a number of EU humanitarian aid workers have already been denied the necessary permits to enter the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 reported Friday.
Earlier Friday, Reuters reported that an Israeli official confirmed that the measures were ordered in reaction to the EU’s issued guidelines.
“From our side, we cannot just ignore it or treat this spittle as though it were rain,” the official said of the EU’s restrictions.
Ya’alon’s directive includes orders to halt any assistance that the IDF is providing to representatives of the EU working on humanitarian projects in the West Bank’s Area C, which is under full Israeli civilian and military control. In other parts of the West Bank, Israel will continue to cooperate with EU officials as usual.
The EU’s new restrictions — set to take effect at the start of 2014 — require the EU and its members to cease any joint activity or funding with Israeli entities working over the Green Line in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem, or in the Golan Heights.
The guidelines also require any future agreements between Israel and the European Union to include a clause in which Israel accepts the EU’s position that all territory over the Green Line does not belong to Israel.