EU commissioner: Upgraded ties depend on peace

Stefan Fule, beginning Israel visit, says EU’s peace vision involves two-state solution "based on 1967 borders, with J'lem as capital of both."

Israel’s prospects for an upgraded relationship with the European Union will have to wait for a “decisive breakthrough” in the peace process. So the EU’s commissioner for enlargement, and for the European neighborhood policy, has made clear to The Jerusalem Post.
In an op-ed that appears in Wednesday’s paper, the commissioner, Stefan Fule, recalled that “in 2008 we decided to upgrade our relations to enhance our ability to achieve common goals” but noted that “This decision is yet to be realized.”
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Fule was set to arrive in Israel late on Tuesday for meetings with President Shimon Peres, Trade Minister Binyamin Ben- Eliezer and others, and a dinner hosted by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The commissioner elaborated: “There is an inescapable political element” to the upgrade process. “A decisive breakthrough in the peace negotiations will pave the way to moving ahead with the upgrade.”
The EU’s vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace, added Fule, involves “two states living side-by-side in peace, security and prosperity, based on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both.”
Progress on the Israel-EU upgrade, which was approved unanimously by the EU’s 27 foreign ministers two years ago, stalled as the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians began to unravel in the winter of 2008-2009.
The unanimous approval emerged from more than a year of negotiations, and was achieved over the objections of the Palestinian Authority and several Arab countries.
If implemented, the upgrade would involve more frequent meetings between Israeli ministers and their European counterparts, and intensified cooperation between Israel and the EU over a range of issues.
In his article, Fule hailed the development of Israeli-EU ties, noting that “A set of formal agreements has brought our diplomatic and economic relations to an extremely intense level.” The EU, he pointed out, has become “Israel’s largest foreign export market. Last year, our total trade reached 20 billion Euros.”
He added that “Formidable challenges lie ahead of Israel, and the EU is prepared to provide all the support necessary to overcome them.”