EU welcomes Kerry efforts, but steers clear of mentioning settlements

EU only alludes to settlements, after ban it decreed 3 days ago.

kerry steps off plane 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
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.
Kerry’s 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.”
Then, in 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 risk.”
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.