Middle East Plan: Top EU Diplomat Warns Against Trump’s Controversial Scheme

Written by | Friday, February 7th, 2020

The European Union has rejected parts of the proposed President Donald Trump’s plan for the Middle East, with the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, calling for direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, who have rejected US president’s vision. The US plan, announced last week, was welcomed by Israel but rejected outright by the Palestinians, for it would give Israel most of what it has sought during decades of conflict, including almost all Palestinian land on which it has built settlements. The EU foreign policy chief said that Trump’s plan broke with “internationally agreed parameters”, and any Israeli annexation of Palestinian land would be subject to challenge.
“To build a just and lasting peace, the unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between both parties,” Borrell said, pointing to the issues of the borders of a Palestinian state and the final status of Jerusalem as being among those most important issues still in dispute. Hence, “the US initiative … departs from these internationally agreed parameters,” Borrell stressed, adding that steps by Israel to annex Palestinian territory, “if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.” EU policy in the Middle East is generally rather cautious, as the bloc includes members with varying degrees of sympathy towards Israel and the Palestinians, with some of them having already recognized the Palestinian state, while many other not.
Trump’s decision in 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was met with condemnation in Brussels, with the EU saying the US had compromised its position as a mediator for peace. EU member states reject Israeli settlements on land Israel has occupied since a 1967 war, though Germany earlier called for a balanced approach. According to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, “Only a negotiated two-state solution, acceptable to both sides, can lead to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” In contrast to the EU’s reaction, the United Kingdom, which left the EU last Friday and has long had a special relationship with Washington, welcomed Trump’s plan, seeing it, in the words of the country’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, as “clearly a serious proposal, reflecting extensive time and effort.”

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