Boycotts against Israel solve nothing, the president of the European Parliament said on Tuesday.
Speaking after a ceremony at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he received an honorary doctorate, Martin Schultz said that there is no support in the EU parliament for a boycott of Israel. He then added that a boycott on Israel “is not a solution for anything.”
“There is no boycott. In the European Parliament there is for sure not a majority for a potential boycott,” said Schultz, when asked about the boycott by the audience.
“There is a debate if some of the products produced in occupied territories of settlements could have access to the European Union market in compatibility with European Union rules, and this is an open debate. My personal view is that a boycott is not a solution for anything. And therefore as president of the European Parliament I was strongly in favor, for example, of upgrading of the scientific cooperation between the European Union and Israel,” he added.
“Boycott is a very tough word,” said Schultz. “To boycott means to completely block cooperation and trade between countries. We are not speaking about such a boycott. There is no concrete position of the European Union or its institutions for a boycott of Israeli products.”
The comments come months after the European Union (EU) published new guidelines which boycott Israeli entities operating beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.
The EU has been pushing both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to reach a peace agreement and has slammed planned Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
Last week, EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton demanded Israel take back its announced plans to build over 700 housing units in its capital city.
“These plans endanger the chances of turning Jerusalem into the capital of two countries,” claimed Ashton, referencing the US plan to establish an Arab capital in Jerusalem. “I call on the government of Israel to weigh this step again, and take back its decision.”
Also last week, the EU Ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, threatened Israel with “increased isolation” should peace talks fail.
Asked about the Israeli-PA peace process, President Schulz told the audience at Hebrew U, “I think before interfering as the European Union in such a very complicated debate – I prefer to go another way: to support first of all [U.S. Secretary of State] Kerry’s efforts to bring both sides together, and without any prejudices and preconditions. The best way to start negotiations is not to put at the first day, and at the first moment, conditions. This is by the way what I discussed yesterday with [PA Chairman] Mahmoud Abbas as well. If both sides would be prepared to say ‘We’ll start without prejudices and without conditions,’ that would already be a historical step.”