While US scales back Mideast peace goals, Europeans talk of re-launching diplomacy

On eve of regional visit, EU foreign policy chief says coming with message that European Union is ready to support a restart of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

May 18, 2015 20:53
2 minute read.
Federica Mogherini and Netanyahu

Italy's foreign Minister Federica Mogherini speaks as she delivers a joint statement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Jerusalem on July 16.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The US and Europe appear to be moving in different directions regarding the immediate future of the Mideast diplomatic process, with US President Barack Obama scaling back ambitions for a comprehensive deal while the Europeans continue talking in terms of an overarching agreement.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday in Brussels, on the eve of a visit Wednesday to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that her visit just after the establishment of a new Israeli government was meant to send a message and had “political meaning.”

“The political meaning is that the EU as such is ready and willing to play a major role in relaunching the peace process on the basis of the two-state solution,” she said. “So my main message to the interlocutors there will be this: Count on the EU to work with our partners in the region and in the international community to support a restart of the peace process.”

Mogherini, speaking at the monthly meeting of EU foreign ministers just prior to a discussion on the Mideast, said her visit would also be an opportunity to listen to the perspectives of the sides, gauge their intentions and “see how to overcome the status quo.”

“I believe one thing is clear to everybody in the region – the status quo is not an option,” she said.

She added that she would also ask the sides for ideas on overcoming the status quo.

“I will be there to listen and to understand how we can help relaunch the process,” she stated.

Mogherini is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the following day.

Although the EU has yet to reach any kind of consensus regarding an expected French proposal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be taken to the UN Security Council, Paris put out a statement Monday indicating its intent to move forward.

“France is determined to continue with the new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu its dialogue and cooperation with Israel, on all topics of mutual interest,” the statement said. “France wants the new government to actually implement peace.

It calls on both parties to finally conclude a comprehensive and final agreement, establishing a viable and sovereign State of Palestine alongside Israel. The two-state solution must be preserved on the ground.

France will continue its commitment in this direction.”

While the French are talking about “finally” concluding a comprehensive agreement, Washington is discussing stepping back from such ambitious goals and trying to move forward with smaller confidence- building measures.

Obama gave voice to that approach in an interview over the weekend with Al-Arabiya, the Saudi-owned pan-Arab television station.

“What I think at this point, realistically, we can do,” Obama said, “is to try to rebuild trust – not through a big overarching deal, which I don’t think is probably possible in the next year, given the makeup of the Netanyahu government, given the challenges I think that exist for President Abbas – but if we can start building some trust around.”

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