EU bans contracts between member states, settlements
Elkin made the statements during a visit to the Temple Mount. "There is no connection between my visit to the Temple Mount which was coordinated in advance and the EU's decision," he said. "My visit is personal and is actually in memory of a friend who was killed three years ago and was one of the first to go the Temple Mount."
Elkin criticized the police for closing the site to Jews on Tisha B'Av. "It's a symbolic day and instead of authorizing the visit the police got scared. They were not equipped to protect us."
Elkin in Temple Mount. 'Private visit'
Commenting on the EU's ban of settlements, the deputy FM said that European pressure should not be directed at Israel, but the Palestinians. "We are ready to negotiate, we're not the problem, Abu Mazen is." Elkin added that the move undermines Kerry's efforts to restart peace talks and encourages the Palestinians to take the unilateral route.
"As a member of the Knesset's right wing and together with other MKs, I chose to support attempts to restart negotiations. We will not agree to unusual gestures." Elkin said that the Right will harden its positions if the EU continues to pressure Israel.
Olmert: EU our friends
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed a different view in regard to the EU's decision Wednesday, saying "They're not our enemies; they're our friends."
"We can't maintain the diplomatic stalemate and believe the whole world will be fine with that."
"We hear the country is in conflict with the European Union; this conflict includes a decision made by the EU that could have grave consequences for the Israeli society, market and economy."
"I hear panic in Jerusalem and I ask myself 'how can it be that those behind the wheel can be so disconnected… all those who were taken by surprise should know that ten years ago the Israeli government signed a deal with the European Union by which Israel was obligated to mark all products manufactured in Judea and Samaria and Gaza. None of this is new.
"The European Union does not recognize these territories as part of Israel," the former prime minister added, "and now the government is appalled when the EU is taking it one step further… The international community is displeased with the stalemate."
He stressed that what he saw to be at the top of the State's priorities was immediate start of "peace negotiation… in full force and with willingness to make painful and dramatic compromises that will dramatically change the Middle East."
Meanwhile, the Science Ministry is checking which groups and institutions stand to suffer from the EU's decision. Science Minister Yaakov Peri estimated on Tuesday that some 40% of Israeli institutions' budgets will be affected.
Ministry officials explained Wednesday that all universities whose studies involve any element beyond the Green Line stand to suffer. "In fact, the decision sets a clear political border to any academic institute in Israel and prevents them from collaborating with researchers, institutes, and even statistical data from beyond the Green Line."
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