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EU and Israel discuss ways to circumvent settlement ban decision

Israel's Maariv newspaper has revealed that the EU is discussing with Israel ways to circumvent the new EU policy that bars it from funding Israeli projects beyond the green line, which will exclude Israeli businesses and institutions operating in the West Bank from receiving EU loans.

According to the newspaper, Europe wishes to ensure Israel's participation in the 70 billion euro "Horizon 2020" research programme, one of the EU's largest scientific research initiatives.

Since the EU cannot revoke the policy, the newspaper reported that both parties are trying to find alternative ways to circumvent it. Israel has proposed for every institution that wishes to join the programme to declare its commitment to invest the funds within the borders of Israel before 4 June 1967.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry also proposed that the European Commission identify the location of the Israeli organizations wishing to obtain European funding exclusively according to their central activities and headquarters. A senior Israeli source explained that this would shift the burden of proof onto the EU. Instead of having an Israeli institution prove that its activities do not fall within the occupied territories, the Europeans would have to prove that the Israeli institution is active in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, the EU has proposed for those Israeli institutions with limited activities in the occupied territories, and which are eligible for funding under the current guidelines, such as banks that have branches in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, fuel companies, patients' welfare groups, shopping centres and academic centres, to establish subsidiary companies for the purpose of participating in the above mentioned research programme and in order to overcome the future EU funding limitations, thus solving the issue.

However Maariv noted that although both parties have the will to resolve this dilemma, there are still significant differences between them.

Israel and the EU seek to find a solution before the European regulations are enforced in January 2014.

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