kerry steps off plane 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Three days after the EU publicized its new guidelines restricting any funds from
making their way to Israeli entities beyond the Green Line, the bloc’s 28
foreign ministers issued a statement on the “Mideast peace process” on Monday
that only indirectly alluded to the settlements.
Israeli officials said
that the statement at the end of the foreign ministers’ monthly meeting was much
tamer than the one that was being drafted in the event that US Secretary of
State John Kerry’s efforts to restart peace talks had failed.
announcement of the resumption of talks averted a statement much more critical
of Israel, one official said.
The EU’s statement “warmly” welcomed
Kerry’s announcement that an agreement was reached establishing a basis for
resuming direct Israeli-Palestinian final-status negotiations.
“This is a
crucial step towards achieving a lasting resolution to the conflict. The
European Union commends Secretary Kerry’s dedication and the personal commitment
demonstrated by Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu and President [Mahmoud]
Abbas,” the statement read.
Once negotiations resume, the statement
continued, “they should lead to tangible and timely progress.”
language generally read in Jerusalem as a reference to settlement construction,
the statement urged “all parties to refrain from action which could undermine
the negotiation process and the prospects of peace.”
It also said, in
another apparent reference to the settlements, that the EU “will continue to
address all issues that put the viability of the two-state solution at
One Israeli official said that the EU has thrown its full backing
behind the Kerry initiative, and there were currently no European initiatives in
the works in case Kerry’s efforts fail. The official also categorically denied
that the publication of the settlement guidelines on Friday had anything to do
with Kerry, and said that those guidelines had been in the pipeline since the
end of 2012.