The Israeli government has finalized a deal with the European Union for regional cooperation that excludes settlements, the Haaretz newspaper reported Sunday, with Culture Minister Miri Regev claiming she was misled into not blocking it.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved Israel’s joining the EU’s program for Cross-Border Cooperation in the Mediterranean — which offers funding and grants for Mediterranean nations on cooperative projects in education, research, environment and more.
But the deal contains a clause which notes that it does not pertain to areas beyond the 1967 borders, including the Golan Heights, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The accord was also approved by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home).
The deal was not discussed in a cabinet meeting, and was automatically approved after no ministers demanded deliberation on the matter.
But Regev said she believed Israel “must reject agreements that force us to de facto boycott regions or populations… barring extreme and extraordinary circumstances.” She said she saw no reason to compromise on the Israeli position “in exchange for a meager EU budget.”
On Sunday Regev complained that she had sought to challenge the deal, but was misled by a technicality — submitting an objection rather than demanding a discussion on the matter.
In a letter to Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman, Regev wrote, “You misled me and my fellow ministers, some of whom said they were not objecting because the issue would be discussed by the cabinet following my own objection.”
In 2013 Israel and the EU signed a multimillion-euro science cooperation deal after reaching a compromise on a similar bone of contention. The deal over Israel’s participation in the Horizon 2020 research partnership program was held up over EU guidelines on settlement funding.
The sides eventually agreed that a clause would be added stating that Israel does not accept the EU’s definition of territory beyond the 1967 lines.