The EU decision to boycott Israeli settlements is expected to take effect on the ground on Friday and has aroused outrageous comments by Israeli officials.
According to the decision, the 28 EU member states are going to stop dealing with government officials on issues relating to the Israeli settlements built in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Ha'aretz reported that the EU has published a "binding directive to all 28 member states forbidding any funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to anyone residing in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem."
Ha'aretz also said that the EU demands that Israel, in any agreement, makes clear that Israeli settlements in the aforementioned areas are "not part of the state of Israel."
The move was described by an official in the Israeli foreign ministry an "earthquake."
A senior Israeli official was reported to have said that "This is the first time that EU institutions (have) issued official directives which are not very clear and not applicable to misinterpretation."
The official said that a political goal lies behind the EU decision to boycott Israeli settlements.
Deputy Israeli foreign minister Zeev Elkin said, "The EU decision to stop cooperation with settlements and funding them causes deep concerns and makes it difficult to conduct contact with it regarding common agreement."
Shimon Shiffer, writing in the Yedioth Ahronoth, called on the Israeli Prime Minister to take strong action in response the EU decision. "European ban demands historic decisions from Netanyahu, not another belligerent statement," he said.