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How the newspapers got this story so wrong

    A remarkable amount of misreporting accompanied the news that the EU had announced a new “directive” on its funding of Israeli institutions.

    There were suggestions that every agreement that EU states sign with Israel will now require Israel’s government to sign a clause irrevocably renouncing Israeli claims to West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Israel was being asked to give up the Kotel and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, one paper suggested.

    I smelt a rat. There was nothing about a “directive” on the EU website. Unlike most EU laws, this one did not seem to have gone through the usual consultations via our Parliament.

    It turned out there was no directive. There was only a legal “Notice”. It applied exclusively to funding agreements between the EU and Israel for social, cultural, sporting and economic co-operation. It has no power over agreements between member states and Israel that do not include EU funding. It will not affect trade agreements or stop EU states and Israel buying each other’s military equipment.

    It is bad enough. But the Israeli government is not forced to sign.

    Now, boycott groups will misrepresent this EU move. They will tell UK universities and cultural groups the EU says they have to boycott all Israeli groups from the territories. Israel and its supporters should get out the truth, and then explain how the EU is actively funding anti-Israel campaigns.

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