TEL AVIV – Secretary of State John Kerry has been coordinating with the European Union regarding its boycott of Israeli settlements, a senior Palestinian negotiator reconfirmed to WND Sunday.
In August, that same Palestinian negotiator told WND 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 U.S.-brokered talks with the Palestinians.
Kerry is facing heavy criticism from Israeli leaders here in response to comments he made that some say are supportive of the European boycott.
Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Kerry seemed to warn that if negotiations to create a Palestinian state fail, Israel could face growing international boycotts.
“You see for Israel there is an increasing deligitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it,” said Kerry. “There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”
“The risks are very high for Israel,” Kerry continued. “People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure.
“Do they want a failure that then begs whatever may come in the form of a response from disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community?”
Israeli leaders took issue with Kerry’s statements and his failure to condemn what many here see as an anti-Semitic boycott.
At a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem yesterday, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel will not negotiate with “a gun pointed at its head,” especially regarding “matters which are most critical to our national interests.”
“The things Kerry said are hurtful, they are unfair and they are intolerable,” Steinitz continued.
Israeli Industry Minister Naftali Bennett said: “We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel and not to be their mouthpiece.”
Adi Mintz, a senior official in the Settler’s Council, claimed Kerry was embarking on an “an anti-Semitic initiative.”
In response, the State Department issued a statement explaining that Kerry’s remarks were taken out of context, clarifying Kerry opposes boycotts against Israel.
However, the senior negotiator speaking to WND yesterday reiterated comments he made in August in which he said he was told that the Obama administration has been coordinating the boycott threat with the EU as leverage to ensure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes along with the talks.
“They agreed to a ‘good cop, bad cop’ attitude,” said the negotiator of the U.S.-EU relationship regarding the boycott.
In August, 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.
The senior Palestinian negotiator told WND at the time that the EU guidelines were published in full coordination with Kerry.
The negotiator further claimed that if Israel does not collaborate with 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 future settlement boycott, the Palestinian negotiator stated.
In August, a petition against the boycott was signed by 1,100 jurists, rabbis and diplomats and sent to EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton and the European Union’s 28 foreign ministers.
A translation 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.”