The European Union clarified that it did not place the entire Modi'in-Maccabim-Re'ut municipality on a list of settlements, but rather only three zip codes “”that are just beyond the Green Line.”
The clarification, in a statement issued by the EU mission in Israel, followed a complaint from the Israeli foreign ministry.
“For anyone who deals in reality, there is not the slightest doubt that the Modi'in, Maccabim and Re'ut localities are an integral part of Israel, and their future is not in question,” the ministry said.
“The EU ignores reality when it extends the domain of conflict to places and issues that do not belong there. As for the other locations mentioned in the EU list, the European approach, though not new, is not acceptable in Israel's view, and it is being addressed through ongoing diplomatic engagement.”
“If Modi’in isn’t part of Israel, then the EU isn’t part of reality,” Israeli Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said.
He spoke of an “unjust and mistaken decision, which is like a boycott measure.”
“It seems that as far as the EU is concerned, Tel Aviv and Itamar, Modi’in and Beit El are all built on illegitimate ground. Anyone who advocates a boycott will be boycotted in the end,” he added.
Modi’in is located halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The EU has published zip codes and a list of settlements from which products manufactured would not be allowed duty free entrance into the European Union.
Since 2004, Israeli exporters to EU countries have had to list zip codes and place names from where goods were manufactured. Under the EU-Israel free trade agreement, Israeli products are allowed into the EU duty free, but not products made in the settlements. EU products coming into Israel also enjoy a duty-free status.
Israel protested against the EU's decision to unilaterally publish the list of settlements on an internal EU website while negotiations over the issue were taking place with Israel.
“By the unilateral publication on the internet, the EU has unacceptably cut off a negotiating process regarding this very issue. This action, conducted "ex abrupto", has therefore been the object of an official protest lodged by the Mission of Israel in Brussels to the European Union,” the Israeli foreign ministry said in its statement.
The EU responded: "However, prior to its publication, the EU, in accordance with the 2004 Arrangement, extensively consulted with the Israeli government and its suggestions have been taken into account as far as possible.”
The EU statement Wednesday reiterated that on the basis of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, "all manufactured goods and nearly all agricultural goods are imported into the EU from Israel free of customs duties. However, customs duties need to be paid for goods produced in Israeli localities beyond the Green Line.”
“Since 2004, an arrangement between the EU and Israel was put in place whereby the list of zip codes and those localities that could not benefit from the customs exemptions was distributed to the customs authorities of the EU Member States,” the statement added.
The decision to publish the list now “was meant to "ensure full implementation" of the agreement and create greater transparency.”
"This will make it easier for EU importers to determine whether customs duties need to be paid or not" the statement read.
"The notice does not change how customs duties are applied to goods coming from Israel. It only advises importers to consult the list of postcodes to ensure that they do not claim exemptions to which they are not entitled."
The EU statement said it “has consistently called upon the parties to resume negotiations on all final status issues, including borders.” "The EU will recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders agreed by the parties."
According to Israeli officials, the decision to publish the list came as a result of pressure from various MEPs and NGOs in Europe who complained that various businesses from the settlements were falling through the cracks and gaining duty free access to European markets.