Official: Israel to meet Quartet delegations that include EU reps

Government says it does not want to "punish" US, Russia and UN for EU’s move on labeling settlement products.

December 16, 2015 00:25
1 minute read.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker poses with Quartet Representative to the Middle East and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel will continue to hold discussions with the Quartet, which includes representatives from the European Union, even though it has suspended talks with the EU over the Palestinian issue, a government official said Tuesday.

A Quartet delegation, including senior officials from the US, Russia, EU and UN, was set to arrive last week to meet with officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss ways of de-escalating the situation and moving the diplomatic process forward but was postponed at the last minute.

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The EU’s special envoy, Fernando Gentilini, was to be a member of that delegation, raising questions about whether Israel would meet with the group.

Following the EU’s decision last month to label products from the settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Foreign Ministry to suspend talks with the EU on matters pertaining to the Palestinian diplomatic track pending a reassessment of ties with EU institutions.

Bi-lateral discussions with individual EU countries have not been impacted, however.

One government official said Tuesday that Israel will meet with a Quartet delegation, if and when it arrives, because it does not want to “punish” the other members of the Quartet: the US, Russia and UN.

The better question, he said, was whether Israeli officials would meet separately with Gentilini. As things stand now, he said, such a meeting would probably not take place.

The official’s comments came a day after EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, following the monthly meeting of the EU foreign ministers, made clear that the EU and the council of foreign ministers was not reversing its new settlement-labeling policy.

Mogherini said the ministers discussed the Middle East peace process and labeling issue, “and we commonly decided that it was important also for me to pass this message publicly that the Council and the European Union stay united on these technical guidelines on indication of origin, which is in no way a boycott and should in no way be interpreted as one.”

She also said that the ministers were “completely united” on the EU’s “continued engagement in the Middle East peace process and in broader bi-lateral relations with Israel. There is full unity and solidarity among member states and among European institutions on that.”

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