Bildt defends EU ban on funding settlements
Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt rejected on Tuesday Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criticism of new European Union guidelines which ban EU member states from funding projects in Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.
"It should not come as a surprise that EU supports international law in Middle East peace efforts," Bildt tweeted.
He later added: "Did Israel really expect that EU should fund illegal settlement expansion? Was never - mildly speaking - in the cards" [sic].
Netanyahu released a statement on Tuesday harshly criticising the EU over its decision to make future agreements with Israel conditional on the latter's recognition of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as occupied territories, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
"We will not accept any external edicts on our borders," Netanyahu said.
Haaretz revealed that the European Union last month circulated the new guidelines for all EU institutions, foundations, investment funds and aid organisations.
The guidelines involve a ban on funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to any Israeli legal entity established in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights.
The guidelines, which were drawn up by the European Commission, are expected to be officially released on Friday and to go into effect on January 1st.