According to a report released on Tuesday by the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the European Union has circulated guidelines forbidding E.U. organizations and institutions from funding or cooperating with any Israeli legal entities based in occupied East Jerusalem or the West Bank. The guidelines will be officially published on Friday and go into effect in 2014.The Israeli government promptly blasted the move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday he would “not accept external dictates” on Israel’s borders and criticized the E.U. for hindering peace talks, which he said ought to be “solely resolved in direct negotiations between the sides.” At the time the news broke, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had just arrived in Israel with the intention of pushing forward long-delayed peace negotiations.The guidelines have been described as a “political earthquake.” Most Israeli institutions, including universities, have deep connections in the occupied territories whether or not they exist in them physically. As Shir Hever of the Alternative Information Center explained to the Real News Network:Almost all the cultural projects in Israel are being funded by organizations that promote colonization, that sustain colonization. Israel's main theaters do shows in the occupied colonies, in the colonies in the occupied territory. So this is what makes the Israelis very concerned.Meanwhile, Palestinian officials have hailed the guidelines as a turning point in the E.U.’s stance on Israel. Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashwari told the BBC, “The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace.”
Lauren Teixeira is a Summer 2013 editorial intern at In These Times.