TEL AVIV – The Obama administration is working behind the scenes in tandem with the European Union’s boycott of Israeli settlements, tying the seriousness of the EU’s future ban to the Jewish state’s actions during current U.S.-brokered talks with the Palestinians, according to a senior Palestinian negotiator.
Last week, the EU published guidelines that deny EU funds in the form of grants, prizes and financial instruments from going toward any Jewish entities in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights or eastern Jerusalem.
The guidelines further require any future Israeli-EU financial agreements to include a clause stipulating that the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not actually part of Israel.
A senior Palestinian negotiator helping to lead the current Israeli-Palestinian talks told WND that the EU guidelines were published in full coordination with Secretary of State John Kerry.
The negotiator further claimed that if Israel does not collaborate with the current round of Palestinian talks being brokered by Kerry, the EU financial sanctions could become tougher. The threat has been communicated to Israeli officials, according to the Palestinian negotiator.
Possible further boycotts being considered, the negotiator stated, include an official statement from EU that settlements are illegal; a full financial boycott; and sanctions on all trade, universities and Jewish entities in the settlements.
Another possibility is an EU dictate requiring special visas for settlers.
On the other hand, if Israel goes along with Kerry’s peace plan, the EU will reconsider its current and future settlement boycott, the Palestinian negotiator stated.
The threat comes as the newspaper Israel Today reported a petition against the boycott signed by 1,100 jurists, rabbis and diplomats was sent earlier this week to EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton and the European Union’s 28 foreign ministers.
A translation of the current version of the appeal says the EU boycott is “based on misguided and legally flawed assumptions about the status of the Israeli settlements and the validity of the 1967 lines as Israel’s borders.”
Continues the document: “The EU’s definition of Judea and Samaria as ‘Palestinian territories’ or ‘occupied territories’ is devoid of any legal or factual merit. The area was never defined as such [under international law] and therefore the EU’s continuous use of this terminology undermines the negotiations for a permanent [peace] deal. … The EU’s perception of the Israeli settlements’ illegality stems from various different interpretations of international law.”
Kerry’s ‘peace’ plan exposed
WND reported last week the Obama administration has quietly presented a plan in which the PA and Jordan would receive sovereignty over the Temple Mount while Israel would retain the land below the Western Wall, according to a senior PA negotiator.
The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.
Israel has not agreed to the U.S. plan regarding the Temple Mount, with details still open for discussion, stated the PA negotiator.
The negotiator, who is one of the main Palestinian figures leading the Arab side of the talks, further divulged Kerry’s proposed outline for a Palestinian state as presented orally to Israel and the PA.
He said Jordan has been invited to play a key role in the discussions surrounding both the Temple Mount and Jerusalem while it will be the PA, with some Jordanian assistance, that would ultimately receive control of some of those areas.
WND was first to report in 2007 that Jordan had been quietly purchasing real estate surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem hoping to gain more control over the area accessing the holy site, according to Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Meanwhile, regarding the rest of Jerusalem, Kerry’s plan is to rehash what is known as the Clinton parameters. That formula, pushed by President Bill Clinton during the Camp David talks in 2000, called for Jewish areas of Jerusalem to remain Israeli while the Palestinians would get sovereignty over neighborhoods that are largely Arab. Most Arab sections are located in eastern Jerusalem.
WND previously reported the Palestinians are building illegally in Jewish-owned areas of Jerusalem, resulting in Arab majorities in some neighborhoods.
For the strategic Jordan Valley, Obama’s proposal calls for international forces to maintain security control along with unarmed Palestinian police forces, the PA negotiator said. Israel will retain security posts in some strategic areas of the Jordan Valley, according to the leaked plan.
When it comes to the West Bank, which borders Jerusalem and is within rocket range of Israel’s main population centers, Israel is expected to evacuate about 90 percent of its Jewish communities currently located in the territory, as outlined in Kerry’s plan.
Israel would retain strategic security posts along with the West Bank’s main blocs, Maale Adumin, Ariel and Gush Etzion. In return, Obama is calling for an exchange of territory with the Palestinians in other locations inside Israel, with discussion being open for the Palestinians to possibly receive land in the Israeli Negev in the country’s south.
The PA negotiator further said Israel rejected a Palestinian request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree not to place the final peace plan up for referendum in the Knesset.
Indeed, Netanyahu announced that any plan must receive final approval in a national poll.
“I am committed to two objectives that must guide the result … if there will be a result. And if there will be a result, it will be put to a national referendum,” he said at the start of the cabinet meeting two weeks ago.
“Negotiations with the Palestinians will not be easy, but we are entering them with integrity, honesty and hope,” Netanyahu added.
The PA negotiator, meanwhile, said Netanyahu agreed that as a gesture to restart talks, Israel will enact a temporary freeze on all Jewish construction in the West Bank outside the main settlement blocs. According to Israeli sources, such a freeze has largely already been in place for several months now anyway.
The freeze is in addition to the release of Palestinian prisoners already agreed upon.
The negotiator warned that one of the toughest issues centers on control of water, with Kerry already reaching out to Turkey about the prospect of selling water at a cheaper rate to a future Palestinian state.