EU Releases Official Statement On Middle East Peace
The [EU Foreign Affairs] Council adopted the following conclusions:
1. “The EU believes that urgent progress is needed towards a two state solution to the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. We want to see the State of Israel and a sovereign, independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security. The legitimacy of the State of Israel and the right of Palestinians to achieve statehood must never be called into question.
2. The EU notes with regret that Israel has not extended the moratorium as requested by the EU, the US and the Quartet. Our views on settlements, including in East Jerusalem, are clear: they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. We reiterate our views on the status of Jerusalem and repeat our call for all parties to refrain from provocative unilateral actions and violence.
3. The EU affirms its readiness to contribute to a negotiated solution on all final status issues within the 12 months set by the Quartet. To this end, the EU will continue to work closely with the parties and reaffirms its support to the US efforts in order to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. The EU stresses the importance of intensified coordination within the Quartet as well as of close cooperation with Arab partners, building on the Arab Peace Initiative. The EU underlines the urgency of finding a negotiated solution and urges the parties to refrain from actions that undermine the prospects of peace. The EU remains committed to contribute substantially to post-conflict arrangements.
4. Council Conclusions of December 2009 set out the EU’s views on the key parameters, principles and issues. We reiterate those Conclusions. The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. This could include agreed territorial swaps. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU calls for an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee question. A negotiated settlement must allow the two States to live side by side in peace and security.
5. The EU commends the work of the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions of the future State of Palestine and reiterates its full support for their endeavours in this regard and the Fayyad plan. Recalling the Berlin Declaration, the Council reiterates its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state. We welcome the World Bank’s assessment that “if the Palestinian Authority maintains its current performance in institution building and delivery of public services, it is well positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future”. The EU remains ready to develop further its bilateral relations with Israel within the framework defined at the Association Council of June 2009 and by its conclusions of December 2009. Within the framework of these conclusions, the EU is also ready to develop further its bilateral relations with the Palestinian Authority.
6. The EU recalls that peace in the Middle East should be comprehensive and reiterates the importance of negotiations on the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon tracks. Peace should lead to the full integration of Israel in its regional environment, along the lines set out in the Arab Peace Initiative.
7. Recalling the Council Conclusions of June 2010, the EU remains extremely concerned by the prevailing situation in Gaza. The EU reiterates its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. Despite some progress following the decision of the Israeli government of 20 June 2010 to ease the closure, changes on the ground have been limited and insufficient so far. Further efforts and complementary measures are needed to achieve a fundamental change of policy that allows for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza as well as improve the daily lives of the population while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The Council calls on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay. The Council calls for a complete stop of rocket attacks at Israel and all other forms of violence.
8. Palestinian exports are an essential component of Gaza’s recovery. In this respect, the EU welcomes the recent announcement by the Israeli government concerning new measures to facilitate exports out of Gaza. We encourage a swift implementation by Israel and are ready to work with Israel towards achieving pre-2007 levels of exports in 2011 to produce real change on the ground. Increased and accelerated imports of construction materials are another crucial component of Gaza’s recovery and also for building schools and health centres.
9. The EU recalls its readiness to assist in the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza in close partnership with the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, in line with UNSC Resolution 1860 and on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. As parts of a comprehensive EU approach, including CSDP missions, the EU is ready to extend its support to improvements to the crossings infrastructure, to purchase and install the necessary equipment and also to train Palestinian border and crossings management personnel to operate the crossings.”
(h/t Palestine Note)
It appears the Council just rehashed the usual ‘ole frothy nothingness, which will accomplish absolutely zero. There’s nothing new about the EU’s position on East Jerusalem. And yet we’re at a point now where, to suggest that you STILL side with international law — when it comes to Israel’s obscene violations — is somehow considered bold and brave.
The group obviously ignored last week’s recommendations made by 26 former European Leaders who demanded the EU make Israel “feel ‘the consequences’ and face ‘a price tag’ for breaking international law by building thousands of new Jewish homes on Palestinian land.”
Until the US or the EU shows some spine, and adds a dash of sticks into their usual mix of carrots, there will never be peace in the Middle East. Never.
UPDATE (Dec. 15, 2010):
The US Congress has now one-up’d the EU by passing an AIPAC sponsored resolution “condemning [any] unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state”. The full text of the resolution can be found HERE. Our US Congress is indeed occupied territory.
The World Moves To Action: ‘Israel Must End Its Illegal Occupation!’
After having cringed through the most recent installment of the Middle East Peace ‘negotiations’, where the Netanyahu government publicly ‘castrated’ US President Barack Obama, the rest of the world appears to have had enough.
Incoming US Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), recently promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he and his fellow Republicans would unite against his own country’s President and vital national security interests, to stand firm with Israel. This appears to have rattled the Obama Administration, who has all but thrown in the towel. This week the State Department announced it was giving up on pressing Israel to slow down its illegal settlement expansion.
The US has proven itself, once again, powerless to apply an iota of pressure to its greatest foreign aid recipient, even when a peace agreement is essential to its own national strategic interests:
In recent months Barack Obama has said that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a “vital national security interest of the United States”. His vice-president, Joe Biden, has confronted Netanyahu in private and told the Israeli leader that Israel’s policies are endangering US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senior figures in the American military, including General David Petraeus who has commanded US forces in both wars, have identified Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land as an obstacle to resolving those conflicts.
Former President Bill Clinton recently stated that a Middle East Peace Agreement would “take about half the impetus in the whole world — not just the region, the whole world — for terror away.” He said, “It would have more impact by far than anything else that could be done”.
The first to react to the failure of the US peace initiative were South American countries, including Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. They announced they now formally recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. Israel fears that Mexico, Ecuador and El Salvador are about to follow suit. None of these countries were amongst the more than 100 countries to already recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
It is now being reported that 26 former European leaders (who held power within the last ten years) sent a strong-worded letter last Monday to each of the governments of the 27 member states and to EU institutions, calling on the EU to punish Israel for its illegal occupation. The EU Observer, which read the letter, reports it recommends the following:
Israel “like any other state” should be made to feel “the consequences” and face “a price tag” for breaking international law by building thousands of new Jewish homes on Palestinian land. […]
… That the EU: “Will not recognize any changes to the June 1967 boundaries, and clarify that a Palestinian state should be in sovereign control over territory equivalent to 100 percent of the territory occupied in 1967, including its capital in East Jerusalem.”
It also asks ministers to set an ultimatum of April 2011 for Israel to fall into line or see the Union seek an end to the existing US-led peace talks format in favour of a UN solution.
[In addition, The EU] should:
- officially link its informal freeze on an upgrade in EU-Israel diplomatic relations to a settlement freeze;
- block imports of products made in settlements but labeled as made in Israel;
- make Israel pay the lion’s share of aid to Palestine;
- send a high-level delegation to East Jerusalem to back Palestinian claims;
- and reclassify EU support for Palestine as “nation building” instead of “institution building.”
The signatories of the letter include:
Former German chancellor Helmut Schmid, former German president Richard von Weizsacker, one-time Spanish leader Felipe Gonzales, ex-EU commission president and Italian PM Romano Prodi and the UK’s former EU commissioner Chris Patten.
It also represents the first time that the forerunner of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, Javier Solana, has come out of the wings to challenge the newcomer.
Apparently, it’s become evident to the world that the US is NOT a fair and honest broker in this conflict. And despite its ‘superpower’ status, its billions of taxpayer dollars in annual foreign aid to Israel, and its long history of vetoing UN Security Council Resolutions against Israel, due to domestic political forces (Read: the Israel lobby), the US is powerless to apply pressure to Israel in ways that would even benefit its own stated strategic interests.
UPDATE (Dec. 14, 2010):
It appears the EU Foreign Affairs Council decided to ignore the letter by the 26 former European leaders cited above. They just released their Official Statement on the Middle East Peace Process.
U.S. Pushing Mideast Peace Deal ‘Guaranteed’ To Be Completed in 2 Years
Several news sources are reporting that the US Administration is about to propose a new Middle East peace initiative whereby Israel and the Palestinians would resume final status talks — suspended since Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s military excursion into Gaza) last year. The proposal would be based on the following parameters:
1. The issue of permanent borders would be the first line of discussions, and this would be hammered out within nine months’ time.
The nine-month time limitation is being tied to Israeli’s temporary settlement freeze — set to expire in nine months’ time. By mandating that permanent borders are established by the end of that moratorium, Israel will only be permitted to continue expansion within the areas that had been agreed upon by both parties.
The negotiations would be based upon the principles of ‘land swaps’ — something that had been prominent in previous peace negotiations. Israel would be permitted to keep some of their illegal settlements in exchange for lands on the Israeli side of the 1967 borders.
2. The remaining discussions would be devoted to the contentious issues of Jerusalem and of Palestinian ‘right of return’ to Israel proper. And these would be completed within what remains of the two-year time frame.
Common Dreams, sourcing Agence France Presse, reports:
To entice both sides to agree to the deal, Washington is preparing letters of guarantee.
The Palestinians will get a letter guaranteeing that the two-year deadline will be final, with no delay. “If no agreement is reached, the Palestinians will request U.S. backing for their demand to receive an area equal in size to the territory under Arab rule prior to 1967,” Maariv said.
The Israelis will receive a note ratifying a letter that former U.S. president George W. Bush wrote to then Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in 2004, in which he said that a final status agreement will be based on the principle of land swaps that will allow Israel to keep its major settlement blocs.
Arab diplomats in Cairo told AFP last week that U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration was drafting letters of guarantee, but did not provide details.
I’d be curious to know how this ‘guarantee’ ultimately determines ‘appropriate’ land swaps should the two sides remain at an impasse beyond the two-year deadline.
After all, if they can’t reach an agreement, then what exactly is the U.S. guaranteeing them? — That the U.S. government would arbitrarily decide on land swaps for both parties? If that’s the case, I doubt the Palestinians — knowing full well the U.S. is not a fair and ‘good faith’ mediator — would agree to that.
The U.S. might arbitrarily give Israel everything it wants (i.e. E. Jerusalem, and deny the Palestinians their lawful ‘right of return’), and in return just leave the Palestinians more waterless, contiguous, desert land to the already picked over bantustans upon which they currently reside. And Israel, knowing their Lobby can guarantee U.S. political complicity, might find it in their best interest to let the two-year deadline pass, so they can get exactly the terms they want — not accorded to them at present, under international law.
Sounds like a Trojan Horse to me — i.e. get the Palestinians to agree to an evasive ‘guarantee’ that will ultimately work in Israel’s favor.
Yahoo News is reporting that the Palestinians, unlike their Israeli counterparts, were left out of the loop on this Obama Administration proposal:
“We have not received, neither officially nor in any other form, a plan from the American administration to bring about peace in the region,” Nimr Hamad, an aide to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, told AFP.
“Israel is trying with these media leaks to pressure president Abbas to enter into negotiations without a complete halt to settlements across all the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.”
Stay tuned …
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