The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support.We can trace this back a bit.
In 1980, at Venice, there was this European-initiated move:
The nine member states of the European Economic Community (EEC) will extend their Middle East initiative by submitting a draft resolution to the United Nations General Assembly based on their Venice declaration of June 30 which stated that the Palestinians and the Palestine Liberation Organization must be associated with the Mideast peace process.
The three crucial points of that Declaration were:
6. A just solution must finally be found to the Palestinian problem, which is not simply one of refugees. The Palestinian people, which is conscious of existing as such, must be placed in a position, by an appropriate process defined within the framework of the comprehensive peace settlement, to exercise fully its right to self-determination.
In other words, up until then, it was not fully recognized nor accepted that the Arabs of the former Mandate of Palestine area were engaged specifically in a "nationalist struggle". Do not forget, the UN's 242 spoke of "states" [i.e., respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area...achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;...guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area] and 'Palestine' wasn't a state (nor ever was in history).
8. The Nine recognise the special importance of the role played by the question of Jerusalem for all the parties concerned. The Nine stress that they will not accept any unilateral initiative designed to change the status of Jerusalem and that any agreement on the city's status should guarantee freedom of access for everyone to the Holy Places.
In other words, Israel's claim to a united Jerusalem was rejected.
9. The Nine stress the need for Israel to put an end to the territorial occupation which it has maintained since the conflict of 1967, as it has done for part of Sinai.
The language does nod to full withdrawal to 1967 since the Sinai Peninsula was surrendered in toto even if zoned to Egypt.
EOZ suggests that the EU rather recently used the phrase "1967 borders":
I noted that the official EU guidelines that were much discussed since yesterday incorrectly used the phrase "1967 borders" to refer to the 1949 armistice lines; lines that were never national borders and never meant to be national borders. I just did a quick look through official EU documents and the earliest mention I can find of the phrase "1967 borders" is this 2002 document, which was quickly followed by a host of others with the same wrong formulation. It is astonishing that Israel apparently never pushed back on the EU to change that incorrect language.
And two days later, in reaction to that Declaration, the Israeli cabinet stated :
"Nothing will remain of the Venice decision but a bitter memory. The decision calls on us and other nations to bring into the peace process that Arab SS which calls itself 'the Palestine Liberation Organisation'... all men of goodwill in Europe, all men who revere liberty, will see this document as another Munich-like capitulation to totalitarian blackmail and a spur to all those seeking to undermine the Camp David Accords and derail the peace process in the Middle East."
There was an earlier formulation in 1977:
and again, while "borders" as a distinct term is not mentioned, as neither in the 1979 declaration, the intent is clear. And as that 1979 document clarified:
The Nine deplore any action or declaration that might constitute an obstacle to the quest for peace. In particular, they consider that certain positions adopted by the Israeli Government and certain declarations it has made are of such a nature as to represent an obstacle to the search for such an over-all settlement. This is particularly the case for:
- Israel’s claim of ultimate sovereignty over the occupied territories, a claim incompatible with resolution 242 (1967) which lays down the principle that the acquisition of territories by force is inadmissible...
Unfortunately, as it is wrong.
...Indeed, the Europeans’ own conduct proves that this is not about implementing international law. Many countries in the region occupy foreign territory and even establish settlements there. The most obvious example is Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus; others include Morocco’s subjugation of Western Sahara, fellow Middle East Quarter member Russia’s recent conquest of parts of Georgia, and Armenia’s in Azerbaijan. In none of these cases has the EU promulgated such guidelines – even when it concerns the ongoing Turkish settlement enterprise in the territory of Europe itself. So whatever “law” the EU thinks mandates the Israel rules, it is clearly a law for one nation only.
Moreover, the guidelines contain a massive exception that undermine the notion that this about international law rather than EU foreign policy. Article 15 exempts groups that “promot[e] the Middle East peace process in line with EU policy.” Either the Geneva Conventions and related rules prevent Israelis from having anything to do with the West Bank or they do not – but they certainly do not contain a “things the EU likes” exception. The exemption reveals the true purpose of the rules: to promote European foreign policy, not the vindicate international law. Indeed, law is about applying general rules equal to various cases, regardless of one’s sympathies: the unique focus on the Jewish State is the opposite of lawful.
That was Eugene Kontorovich.