EU opposes boycott of Israel, official says

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU opposes a boycott of Israeli companies and businesses.

“We don’t want to see Israel isolated,” Ashton said March 17  during a meeting in Brussels of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council, the Wall Street Journal reported.

She said, however, that the EU remains opposed to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which the bloc calls illegal and an obstacle to a two-state solution.

Ashton also asserted that the European Union would deepen economic ties with Israel and the Palestinians in several areas if they reach a peace agreement.

She said the support for Israel and the Palestinians would come in the areas of “energy, water, environment … business-to-business contacts,” as well as “progressive market integration, trade and investment facilitation,” and deeper ties in research projects and security cooperation, according to the newspaper.

The EU has said previously that it could offer “unprecedented” support for the two sides after a peace deal. Ashton’s statements are the first hints of that support. — jta