EU threatens to penalize Israel if sovereignty goes ahead

If Israel declares sovereignty over settlements, the EU threatens to retaliate with boycotts of diplomatic visits and cancellation of billions in grants for research.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The European Union is planning to impose penalties if Israel puts into action plans to apply sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria, Ynet reported Sunday.

The EU and many of its members have voiced their objection to Israel making any ‘unilateral’ steps in regards to settlements, saying that doing so is a serious threat to the future of the two-state solution.

A classified document that the Israeli delegation in the EU forwarded to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on EU reaction to sovereignty predicts that should it go ahead, the Europeans will immediately boycott diplomatic visits, halt student exchanges and cancel billions of shekels worth of grants in favor of Israeli research.

The report is based in part on talks held by Israeli diplomats with European ambassadors stationed in Brussels. Various European countries, including some as close to Israel as Britain, have warned recently that there will be consequences to any sovereignty move.

Oded Eran, Israel’s former ambassador to the EU, and former Israeli ambassador to Germany Shimon Stein have also raised the alarm about the worsening situation in Israel-EU relations in an article published by the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, saying that “declaring the application of sovereignty will bring condemnation and possibly even punishments.”

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Stein and Eran noted that the EU doesn’t have the ability to cause significant economic damage to Israel that would discourage the Israeli government from deciding to extend sovereignty, but at the same time they pointed out if the Democrats win the November presidential elections, the European position must be taken into account.

In view of the expected European response, they said “the Israeli government is advised to delay the decision on annexation, even if it is merely symbolic.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has missed a self-proclaimed July 1 target date to start extending sovereignty over settlements.

At the end of June, President Donald Trump’s top national security aides were unable to reach a decision on whether to support the Israeli plan to extend sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria.

No maps of the proposals have been decided on, and U.S. officials say that consultations with Israeli officials are ongoing in order to formulate a proposal that would be in keeping with Trump’s plan for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.