EU officials in occupied East Jerusalem recommended that the 27 EU member states impose sanctions on trade with Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories and halt financial aid to them, the media reported on Wednesday.
A new report issued by the EU mission in Jerusalem was sent to Brussels and foreign ministries in 27 EU member states.
The Israeli newspaper Haartez said that the EU representative recommended the EU members "prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions including foreign direct investments from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services."
According to Haaretz, the report makes seven recommendations that directly or indirectly suggest imposing sanctions on Israeli groups operating in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. The consuls urge Brussels to ensure strict enforcement of the EU's policy to not give preferential treatment to imported goods from the West Bank and to prevent them from being labelled as originating in Israel. They also call upon the EU to stop supporting research projects by Israeli organizations located beyond the Green Line.
The EU does not recognize the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967, as Israeli territory, therefore products from these areas do not benefit from preferential trade arrangements between Israel and EU.
The report also slammed the Israeli government for seeking to expand the East Jerusalem settlements of Har Homa, Gilo and Givat Hamatos. Those plans, which will isolate Jerusalem from Bethlehem by 2013, are "systematic, deliberate and provocative" and aimed at preventing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During 2012, bids to build 2366 settlement units were proposed. This number is three times the total number proposed in the three previous years.
However, the Israeli news website, timesofisrael, reported the EU ambassador to Israel, Andrew Standley, saying earlier that the imposition of sanctions against Israel required a unanimous decision of the 27 member states and was therefore unlikely. "The EU is opposed to boycotts. This is not the way we operate in terms of our international relations," he said.
An EU official told the same website today (Wednesday), that while the report's language seemed strong, suggesting a call for active EU divestment from the settlements, it signified no actual change in the union's policy.
Showing a kind of neglect of Palestinians rights similar to all previous EU reports, the EU official told timesofisrael: "Even a harsh-sounding yet vaguely worded phrase in which the consuls call on the EU to 'prevent… problematic implications of financial transactions… in support of settlement activities,' already appeared in last year's report."