News / Middle East

Kerry Urges EU to Postpone Funding Ban in Israeli-Occupied Territories

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton before a meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Sept. 7, 2013.
Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the European Union on Saturday to postpone a planned ban on EU financial assistance to Israeli organizations in the occupied Palestinian territories, a U.S. official said.

Kerry made the request at a meeting with EU foreign ministers at which he also called on them to support Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which resumed on July 29 after a nearly three-year hiatus.

The EU imposed restrictions in July, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War.

A senior U.S. State Department official told reporters in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius that Kerry called on the Europeans to consider postponing the implementation of EU guidelines on aid.

“There was strong support for his efforts and an openness to considering his requests,” he said.

The guidelines render Israeli entities operating in the occupied territories ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.

They angered Israel's rightist government, which accused the Europeans of harming Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and responded by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians.

Palestinians praised the guidelines as a concrete step against settlement construction, which they fear will deny them a viable state.

Asked her response to Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters the guidelines were simply “putting down on paper what is currently the EU position.”

Talks

Ashton announced, however, that the EU would send a team, headed by a senior EU diplomat, to Israel on Monday to make sure the implementation of the new guidelines was done sensitively.

“We of course want to continue having a strong relationship with Israel,” she said.

The EU team would talk to the Israelis about implementation of the new guidelines but not about renegotiating them, an EU source said.

A senior U.S. State Department official, briefing reporters before the Vilnius talks, said Kerry would give a clear message to EU ministers on the funding issue.

He would tell them that “it's important for those parties who have an interest in a successful outcome [to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations] that they be supportive of this effort and that they find a way to embrace the negotiators and encourage them to move forward, rather than, as it were metaphorically, bang them over the head,” the official said.

Jewish settler leaders say the aid they receive from Europe is minimal. But many in Israel worry about possible knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.

The EU and Israel began talks last month on Horizon 2020, a prestigious 80-billion-euro ($107-billion) European research funding program. The dispute over the guidelines could jeopardize an agreement on Israel's participation in it.

Israeli-Palestinian peace has been Kerry's main foreign policy initiative since becoming secretary of state on Feb. 1.

He is scheduled to brief some Arab League ministers on his peace efforts in Paris on Sunday and then to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the same day in London.

He is also expected to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon.

The core issues that need to be settled in the more than six-decade-old Israeli-Palestinian dispute include borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hakuna Matata from: Cupertinp, CA
September 13, 2013 2:14 AM
Once again the US is supporting the immoral, illegal, and racist policies of Israel in the occupied West Bank where Israel has set-up a system where it denies building and water permits to the Palestinians, builds roads exclusive use of settlers, has check-points where soldiers look on while pregnant women die giving birth.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 09, 2013 12:01 PM
It is most appalling to continue to refer to the Jewish land, formerly occupied by the Arabs and retrieved during the '67 wars, as still occupied land. Who is occupying what now? Despite fractions of history discovered, should somebody continue to refer to the territory (let's agree with you that it's) under dispute, as occupied land? Land under dispute should serve a better reference instead of outrightly making it look like it belongs to the Palestinians and Israel is confiscating it. In as much as the Palestinians continue to ruminate in pampering by the international community and refuse to do the right thing to end the strife, Israel should continue to build on the land until all of it is utilized.

After all Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc - all which stand for the Resistance, have as yet refused to recognize Israel's right to exist. So what is the peace that is going to be negotiated if it is only going to mean enfranchisement of the enemy to not only possess lethal weapons, but to shoot them at you without the least provocation? It's suicidal by any reckoning, and Israel should do everything at its disposal to stall the so-called peace process until there is sanity in the whole exercise - when the arch enemies at least agree with Israel's right to exist. Then the peace negotiations and procedures can start. Now it's only asking Israel to commit a suicide.
In Response

by: Hakuna Matata from: Cupertino
September 13, 2013 2:39 AM
Godwin,

The Normans currently live in England. Should they go back and displace the people of Normandy, evict them from their homes, set up roads for their exclusive use, deny them permits for building houses and roads?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs