January 1, 2014
To High Representative Ashton, Pierre Vimont, Christian Berger, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner Tajani, Permanent Representatives and Political Advisors
c.c. Leonello Gabrici, Helga Schmid
Dear High Representative Ashton et al,
We write further to our letter of 18 November. In the last few days, Prime Minister Netanyahu has announced 1,400 new housing starts in settlements and the Ministerial Committee on Legislation has approved a bill to annex the Jordan Valley by a vote of 8 to 2. In our opinion, the Israeli right wing was emboldened to take these steps because of the substantial concessions the Commission appears to have made to Israel on implementing the Guidelines in the Horizon 2020 MOU. They used Tzipi Livni to get what they wanted, and now they intend to continue entrenching the occupation as if the EU had never spoken.
As we have said before, the Israeli right does not care what the EU says. Every new integration measure and every concession merely convinces them that Israel can continue to entrench the occupation and simultaneously increase its integration into the EU. How can Livni and others argue that Israel will become an international pariah if it continues refusing to accept the international parameters for ending the occupation, when the EU proves them wrong at every turn ?
Judging by the Joint statement by High Representative Ashton and Mrs. Livni of 26 November, and Mr. Gabrici’s reply to us of 12 December, it appears that the Commission has almost completely given way on what should be the very strong precedent effect of the Guidelines. “The agreement fully respects the EU’s legal and financial requirements while at the same time respecting Israel’s political sensitivities and preserving its principled positions.” is a poor substitute. It may formally maintain the EU’s positions, but it also continues allowing Israel to have it both ways.
We therefore urge you to reverse the two big concessions which the Commission appears to have made. Firstly, the term “occupation” should be used in the MOU, as it is in the Guidelines, not “administration” which was used in agreements prior to the Guidelines being published. Secondly, reference to the Guidelines should be reinstated in the MOU itself, which Israel will have to sign if it wants to participate in Horizon 2020. Relegating it to an associated statement which Israel will not have to sign, and matching that with a dissenting Israeli statement, would place the EU’s principles and Israel’s dissent from them on an equal footing. Far from reinforcing the precedent that Israel has no sovereign rights in any part of the OPT, these two concessions would weaken it.
The Guidelines and integration measures such as Horizon 2020 are not merely technical or commercial matters. They are part of the EU’s political relations with Israel. The EU should not be expected to continue awarding Israel further integration while Israel acts as if it is above the law. The latest settlement announcement and the Committee vote on annexing the Jordan Valley surely nullify any obligation to make concessions to Israel which the Commission may have felt it had.
The EU does not need Israeli participation in Horizon 2020. There are more than enough first-class companies and institutions in EU member states to provide all the research capability that the EU needs. Israel, however, needs to participate in Horizon 2020 to gain the international acceptability which it craves. In order to join, it should have to accept the EU’s principles of respect for human rights and international law.
Dror Feiler, Chair of EJJP and Judar for Israelisk-Palestinsk Fred (Stockholm), Board Member of the EJJP Foundation
Arthur Goodman, Parliamentary and Diplomatic Officer, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (London)
Max Wieselmann, Board Member of the EJJP Foundation, Director of Een Ander Joods Geluid (Amsterdam)