By Ray Fleming

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz yesterday revealed a directive by the European Union on relations with Israel which it called “an earthquake”. The directive, said to have been finalised on 30 June, will require “all agreements of co-operation between the EU and Israel , including economic, science, culture, sport and academia, to state that West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements are outside the state of Israel”. Trade is not included but is already subject to a requirement for products and produce exported to the EU from the settlements to be labelled as such.

It is odd that news of such an important policy development should not have come from Brussels although it has been known there that last December EU foreign ministers agreed that “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”.

If measures in line with these statements are imposed the effect could be profound in a number of directions, including America's on-going efforts to break the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

If the EU's specific exclusion of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from dealings with the EU takes place Israel will have only itself to blame because of the frustration that has been caused by its total disregard of the internationally expressed view that its occupancy of these lands is illegal.

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