Sunday, March 5, 2017

EU mulling high-level talks with Israel - Elad Benari




by Elad Benari

EU foreign ministers considering holding high-level talks with Israel amid concern over the "two-state solution".



EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini with Prime Minister Netanyahu
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini with Prime Minister Netanyahu
Amit Shabi/POOL/Flash 90
European Union foreign ministers are considering holding high-level talks with Israel, diplomats said Friday, according to The Associated Press.

The diplomats said the EU must be clear in its dealings with Israel, especially given what they called the U.S. administration's “unclear position” on the Israel-Arab conflict.

One official quoted by AP said that any future official talks with Israel could not be "business as usual. Things have to be said very clearly to the Israelis."

The diplomats briefed reporters about Monday's foreign affairs talks in Brussels on condition of anonymity.

EU-Israeli relations are governed by an "Association Agreement," which entered force in June 2000. It foresees routine ministerial-level meetings, or Association Councils.

"We want to have a unified and clear European Union position that takes into account developments on the ground," the diplomat said, according to AP. "Once we have a clear position, then we can look at a date."
The comments come amid what appears to be a change of position in Washington about the two-state solution.

At his recent meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump would not commit to the two-state solution as the only way to solve the conflict, saying he would back whatever solution the sides decide on.

"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” said Trump. “I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one."

The President later clarified that he likes the concept of a two-state solution to the Israel-Arab conflict, but would be “satisfied with whatever makes both parties happy.”

European countries, particularly France, have insisted that the two-state solution is the only way to solve the conflict.

A senior EU official insisted that preparation for the talks with Israel goes on, despite suspicion that the Europeans might be stalling.

"It's not frozen, not at all. Work has started," she told AP, adding that Trump's ambivalence about the two-state solution has caused concern in Europe.

"There is an ongoing policy review in the United States," she said. "So we will continue to use every opportunity, every occasion, also at the level of senior officials, to promote our views."

The EU enjoys close ties with the Palestinian Authority but does not see eye to eye with Israel on its construction in Judea and Samaria.

In recent years, several countries in Europe have recognized the state of “Palestine”, including Britain, Sweden, and Portugal.

In January, the Palestinian Authority (PA) inaugurated an embassy in the Vatican. Most of these moves are symbolic gestures and have little, if any, actual diplomatic effect.


Elad Benari

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/226068

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