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EU sending diplomats to Israel to talk about new settlement guidelines

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — The European Union will send to Israel a diplomatic team to talk to Israeli officials about implementing the EU’s new settlement guidelines.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton made the announcement over the weekend after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday called on the European Union to postpone a planned ban on its financial assistance to Israeli organizations operating beyond the 1967 borders.

The European Commission in July announced new guidelines making Israeli entities and activities in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights ineligible for EU grants and prizes.

Kerry made the request at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vilnius, Lithuania, saying it would help facilitate the restarted peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

In response, Ashton said the guidelines were simply “putting down on paper what is currently the EU position.”

Ashton said she was sending the diplomatic team, to be headed by a senior EU envoy, to make sure the implementation of the guidelines was handled “very sensitively.” She added that the European Union wants to “continue to have a strong relationship with Israel.”

The EU also plans to introduce special labeling for products made in the settlements by the end of this year.

 

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