EU warns Israel on two-state issue

EU official: "Relations would become very difficult" if Netanyahu's gov't opposes Palestinian statehood.

Czech FM karel schwarzenberg 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Czech FM karel schwarzenberg 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The European Union once again sent strong warning messages to Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday, cautioning him that EU ties with Israel could take a turn for the worse if he rejects a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Karel Schwarzenberg, foreign minister of the Czech Republic which currently holds the EU presidency, said that if the new Israeli government does not commit itself to establishing a Palestinian state, "relations would become very difficult indeed." "At one of our next ministerial meetings we would have to discuss what consequences the EU would draw from that," he added after chairing the opening day of a two-day EU foreign ministers meeting. "Both parties must stick to their commitments from the past: A two-state solution and all agreements reached over the past few years," Schwarzenberg said. He hailed US President Barack Obama's early commitment to the Middle East peace process. The administration of former US president George W. Bush "really turned its attention to the Middle East rather late," he said, adding that Obama's early commitment to the Middle East process means "there is real hope for progress in the region." Earlier this month, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned that the bloc may reevaluate its ties with Israel if the incoming government isn't committed to a two-state solution. "Let me say very clearly that the way the European Union will relate to an [Israeli] government that is not committed to a two-state solution will be very, very different," Solana said. The bloc "will be ready to do business as usual, normally, with a government in Israel that will continue talking for a two-state solution," Solana later told reporters. Zalman Shoval, a former ambassador to the US and a top adviser to Netanyahu, told The Jerusalem Post at the time that the new government had every intention of respecting its international obligations as long as they did not pose a security threat. "The European Union and this government are going to get along very well, given that most of the countries in Europe today are under leaderships who are basically friendly to Israel," said Shoval. "I do not foresee any major problems." Netanyahu, he said, intended to continue to actively pursue negotiations with the Palestinians. However, he added, "we are not saying a priori what the solution would be."