London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The European Union is set to introduce new rules this week banning funding for Israeli projects in the occupied territories.
The new rules, which are set to take effect in 2014, will require individuals or institutions in Israel applying for EU funding to sign a clause agreeing not to use any of the funds in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, or Golan Heights
Institutions or individuals based in these areas will not be able to apply for EU funding.
While the EU has previously avoided funding projects in the occupied territories, the new regulations place this on an official footing.
An EU spokesman in Tel Aviv told the Associated Press news agency that the new rules, known as the “territorial applicability clause,” would affect research institutes and NGOs, but not private sector bodies, leaving Israeli-EU trade unaffected.
The new regulations follow a decision by EU foreign ministers in December, which stated “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”
The new rule applies only to funds from the EU’s own budget, and does not apply to bilateral agreements between Israel and individual EU member states.
The new guidelines have provoked a furious reaction from the Israeli government, with official describing the move as an “earthquake,” according to the newspaper Haaretz.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, condemned the move on Tuesday, saying: “As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights and our united capital Jerusalem to be harmed. We will not accept any external diktats about our borders. This matter will only be settled in direct negotiations between the parties.”
Approximately half a million Israeli citizens live in settlements built on land occupied by Israel after the Six Day Way of 1967 and the October War of 1973. The settlements are widely-considered illegal under international law, though this is disputed by the Israeli government.
In contrast, the move was welcomed by Palestinian officials. PLO Executive Committee member, Hanan Ashrawi, 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.”