Photo Credit: Hadas Parush / Flash 90
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks at the Knesset plenary in a special session scheduled to honor his visit to Jerusalem.

The European Union has moved ahead to officially boycott Israelis and Israeli institutions located in Judea, Samaria and post-1967 areas. But Italy’s prime minister, at least, has firmly slammed the idea of such a boycott has “stupid and futile.”

The move comes with the release of a report by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) which says the EU is legally in contradiction of its own laws. The report claims the EU must “firmly” distinguish in its dealings between pre-1967 Israel and any area restored to the country in the 1967 Six Day War. Proposals made by the ECFR frequently inform policies formulated by the European Union.

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“Do day-to-day dealings between European and Israeli banks comply with the EU requirement not to provide material support to the occupation?” asks the report, entitled ‘EU Differentiation and Israeli Settlements.’

“Under its own regulations and principles, Europe cannot legally escape from its duty to differentiate between Israel and its activities in the Palestinian territories,” it says.

Up to this point, the boycott enacted against Israel by Europe had been limited to labeling against manufactured items produced by firms based in Judea, Samaria and post-1967 neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

But the proposals now under discussion reach much farther – into boycotts against banks, loans and mortgages, tax-exempt statuses of European charities dealing with the relevant Israeli communities and negating the qualifications earned at institutions located in those areas as well.

Israel’s government has called the labeling steps “discriminatory” and likens the campaign to that of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – another form of anti-Semitism.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi slammed the EU decision.

In a speech to the Knesset on Wednesday, Renzi called for a two-state solution with security for both sides – but said the PA must recognize the right of the Jewish People to a state in their own homeland.

“That right does not exist because of the world’s generosity after the Holocaust,” Renzi said. “Israel existed hundreds of years before.

“It exists despite the Holocaust and it will continue to exist with the support of its friends in Europe and the world.

“You do not only have the right to exist, you must exist and live for the future of your children and mine,” he went on. “You are a fulcrum of the world and we will stand with you.”

As for the European Union boycott against Israel – and any other boycott, for that matter – Renzi said: “Whoever thinks to boycott Israel does not understand that he is harming himself and betraying his future.

“Italy will always stand for cooperation and never for boycotts, which are stupid and futile.

“Peace for Jerusalem is peace for the whole world. Our fate is your fate. Together we will build a more just world.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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