The new European Union directive which bars the bloc's member nations from developing future financial cooperation with the settlements can be reviewed and revised, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is currently visiting Israel, said in a press conference held Sunday at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The European Union's directive, passed in mid-July, calls on its principal institutions and 28-member nations to limit or suspend their economic, social and academic cooperation with Israeli institutions that operate beyond the pre-1967 borders, which include Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The new funding guidelines, which could cost Israel billions of dollars, go into effect in 2014.
According to Army Radio, while Fabius stressed that France and the EU's position on the matter has not changed, he said that Brussels "can consider revising the boycott on settlements … and we must see whether [the decision] had any unpredictable implications."
Earlier in August, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "Israel will not sign any new agreements with the EU while the directive regarding the 1967 borders remains in effect."
Netanyahu met with the French minister on Sunday afternoon in Jerusalem. The two discussed the peace process with the Palestinians and the recent development in Syria.
"I know that France shares our interest in the ongoing events in Syria," Netanyahu told reporters in a joint press conference with Fabius. "I think what is going on there is a crime committed by the Syrian regime against its own people. It's truly shocking. And these atrocities must stop. I have to say, however, that Assad's regime is not acting alone. Iran, and Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, are there on the ground playing an active role assisting Syria. In fact, Assad's regime has become a full Iranian client and Syria has become Iran's testing ground.
"Now the whole world is watching. Iran is watching and it wants to see what would be the reaction on the use of chemical weapons. What we see in Syria is how extremist regimes have no reservations whatsoever about using these weapons even when they use it against innocent civilians, against their own people. This demonstrates, yet again, that we simply cannot allow the world's most dangerous regimes to acquire the world's most dangerous weapons."
Fabius agreed that "there must be a strong reaction," against Syria.
The French foreign minister also met with President Shimon Peres. He later told reporters that while the regional turmoil clouded the Israel-PA negotiations, "we must think in the opposite way. ... Because of the things taking place [in Syrian and Egypt], peace is even more important in the region, and we must make the most of this moment. Peace is within reach."
Peres said that "the world justifies optimism as well; history is the march of the optimist. We have to create a positive atmosphere to encourage the peace process, if I can think of a period of opportunity to move ahead, it is now."