European Union foreign ministers pledged on Monday that the EU would provide an “unprecedented package of support” to Israelis and Palestinians if the two parties reach a peace deal.
“The EU will provide an unprecedented package of political, economic and security support to both parties in the context of a final status agreement,” said the Foreign Ministers in the Conclusions on the Middle East Peace process they have adopted.
“In the event of a final peace agreement, the European Union will offer Israel and the future state of Palestine a Special Privileged Partnership including increased access to the European markets, closer cultural and scientific links, facilitation of trade and investments as well as promotion of business to business relations,” said the Foreign Affairs Council in the Conclusions, adding that “enhanced political dialogue and security cooperation will also be offered to both states.”
The Council reiterated the EU’s “full support” to the efforts of the parties and of the United States towards a just and lasting settlement for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to a two-state solution fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of both parties.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has kept the Middle East peace process on the list of the White House’s foreign policy priorities and resumed shortly after his appointment to the position the shuttle diplomacy, multiplying contacts with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to nudge forward the peace negotiations.
The U.S. official finally convinced the two sides to go back to the negotiation table last July, and although talks were not always easy, he insists that he still believes a deal could be reached within the nine-month timetable he set for the two sides.
The United States has welcomed the EU Foreign Affairs Council’s announcement describing it as “a strong message” of the EU’s intention to help further integrate Israel and Palestine into the international community and a message of the possibilities that peace can bring.
“Secretary Kerry has made clear how important it is for Israelis and Palestinians alike to envision the benefits that peace will bring,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement, urging the parties “to remain focused on the end goal: a final status agreement that ends the conflict and all claims and creates a sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This end goal includes a new vision for the region — a prosperous Israel living side by side in peace and security with a prosperous Palestinian state.”
In its Conclusions, the EU Foreign Council warned against actions that undermine the negotiations and deplored Israel’s continuous expansion of settlements, which it described as “illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace”. The Council also expressed its grave concern regarding incitement, incidents of violence in the occupied territory, house demolitions and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, and actions that undermine the status quo of the holy sites, including in Jerusalem.
The Council conclusions reaffirmed that the EU “stands firmly behind President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu in their efforts to take bold and concrete steps towards a just and lasting solution to the conflict within the agreed timeframe.”
Article Tags:Benjamin Netanyahu · EU · Gaza · Israel · Jerusalem · John Kerry · Mahmoud Abbas · Middle-East · Palestine · US