Stalled negotiations between Israel and Romania over bringing workers in to the Jewish state have been held up over a Romanian demand that its citizens not work in settlements, Army Radio recently found.
Israel has refused to agree to the stipulation.
Negotiations between the two sides, aimed at bringing Romanians to Israel to work in the undermanned construction industry, have stretched for months without an agreement, but the reason was not made public. It turns out talks fell apart over Romania’s insistence that the workers not be employed beyond the Green Line.
With the election of Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s government a year ago, Israel reached out again in hopes that a solution could be found.
“Israeli residents are being harmed daily by the government’s activities in the territories,” said Meretz MK Michal Rozin. “At this rate, it’s only a matter of time until the state gives way to [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu’s settlement state.”
Former Israeli ambassador to the European Union Avi Primor told Army Radio Tuesday that the “move was not done against Israel, but against a certain aspect of Israeli policy. This of course gets worse during talks with the Palestinians, since it seems to the Europeans that we are doing unnecessary provocations to torpedo the talks with new announcements about settlements every other day.”
Israel decided this week to increase recruitment efforts to bring in construction workers from Moldova and Bulgaria instead.
This is not Israel’s only recent diplomatic tangle with Europe over settlements.
A deal over Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 research partnership program was held up over controversial new EU guidelines that bar Israeli institutions in the West Bank from receiving EU funding.
Published in July, the EU guidelines mandate a denial of European funding to, and cooperation with, Israeli institutions based or operating over the Green Line, and a requirement that all future agreements between Israel and the EU include a clause in which Israel accepts the position that none of the territory over the Green Line belongs to Israel.
After negotiations reached an impasse in November, Israel signed the agreement with the EU to guarantee involvement in the multimillion-euro scientific cooperation agreement.