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

    Pentagon: Afghan Hospital Bombing Not a War Crime

    US Central Command's Joseph Votel says probe found tragedy was result of 'extraordinarily intense situation' that included multiple equipment failures

    US Minorities Link Guns with Other Social Ills

    New study finds reduction in gun violence could help lower America’s incarceration rate – the world’s highest - and improve relationships between police, citizens in minority communities

    US Millennials Beat Baby Boomers as Largest Living Generation

    America's young people are about to take over and here's what we can expect from them

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora