EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Danilo Krstanovic)
Revolutionary trends in the Middle East have not yet been fully played out and
it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the region is moving towards democracy or
whether oppression and corruption will continue to rule in another
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Israel, while welcoming the overthrow of tyrants and the quest for
freedom, has consistently stated that a change of leadership without a change in
the system will not be productive and will not lead to what the revolutionaries
had hoped to achieve. The Israeli attitude has been that if there is positive
change, this will be a good sign for peace prospects in the region.
topic was in the forefront of conversation in Jerusalem on Sunday night between
President Shimon Peres and Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy
chief, with the emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the possible
scenarios at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly, and the consequences
of a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
Ashton was nearly an
hour behind schedule, having met previously with Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, who kept her waiting for a long time.
Asked whether the
meeting with Netanyahu had been delayed, one of Ashton’s aides replied grimly
that it had been considerably delayed. Netanyahu has a reputation for being late
to meetings and press conferences.
Ashton apologized profusely to Peres
for her lateness, to which he replied. “It’s not your fault. I know.”
frequent visitor to the President’s Residence, Ashton found it somewhat
different this time when she alighted from her limousine. The red carpet was in
place, but alongside it were two late 19th-century padded carriages, one black
and one white. There was also music in the background.
The carriages were
part of the scenery for the Monday night production celebrating the 20th
anniversary of Tel Aviv’s Gesher Theater, and the music was part of the
rehearsal for the performance. Workman had been putting up scenery earlier in
the day and the large cast had been rehearsing since the morning, breaking off
only for meals. They were still in rehearsal when Ashton arrived.
told her that her visit was “timely and of the utmost importance” and added that
a supreme effort must be made to take advantage of opportunities and not to make
Ashton said that as always, she spoke on behalf of the
27 member states of the EU in wishing Israel well and getting the peace process
She stressed the urgency of finding a solution to the conflict
as quickly as possible, saying that it should be a solution that will guarantee
She also noted that Sunday was the 25th birthday of
hijacked soldier Gilad Schalit, and voiced the hope that he would be released
well before his 26th birthday.
“My thoughts today are with his parents,”