Lapid slams EU funding ban: ‘It will serve extremists’

Decision to bar European states from cooperating with Israeli entities beyond Green Line could harm peace efforts, finance minister says

Finance Minister Yair Lapid (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Finance Minister Yair Lapid criticized the European Union’s decision to disallow its 28 members from cooperating with any Israeli entity in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, saying the decision would ultimately lead to a stagnation of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

In an op-ed in the New York Times published Friday, Lapid claimed that the EU’s policy would “delay the resumption of peace negotiations,” and would deter Palestinian leaders from attempting to restart further negotiations.

“[A]s long as the Palestinians steer clear of the negotiating table, their situation will improve,” Lapid wrote. “The premise of this militant Palestinian rejectionism is rather simple: As the years pass, the international isolation of Israel will increase.”

The EU’s efforts, Lapid wrote, were “misguided mistakes of well-intentioned people.”

Lapid went on to state that besides endangering the peace process, The EU’s motion would strengthen factions opposed to the Palestinian Authority and may even serve as a catalyst for terrorist activities against Israel.

“In one fell swoop, they have emboldened the extremists, allowing them to triumphantly claim to Mr. Abbas, ‘You see, we were right all along. You must not negotiate. We don’t have to do anything. The international community will do our job for us’,” the Finance Minister concluded.

The EU’s directive, sent out on June 30, formally published on Friday, and set to take effect in 2014, extends to “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

It also requires that any contracts between EU member countries and Israel henceforth include a clause stating that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are not part of the State of Israel.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked with a series of European leaders, outlining his strong objections to a European funding ban on Israeli institutions operating in the territories, officials said.

They said Netanyahu told the leaders, “There are more urgent and pressing issues in the Middle East that should be dealt with first,” like the conflict in Syria and Iran’s nuclear program.

Israeli media outlets reported that Netanyahu urged the leaders to delay the ban’s enforcement.

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