EU makes new ME peace push

Offers to raise aid to Palestinians, beef up security missions to help Israel.

catherine ashton 311 (photo credit: AP)
catherine ashton 311
(photo credit: AP)
The European Union made a new push Monday to revive the stalled Mideast peace process, offering to raise aid to the Palestinians and beef up its security missions in Lebanon and the Palestinian areas to help Israel.
Reflecting Europe's frustration over the deadlocked peace process, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign and security affairs chief, criticized Israel's announcement last week it will build new housing units in east Jerusalem and the Palestinian leadership's reluctance to embrace reforms.
Ashton said the EU wants the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers — the EU, the United States, the United Nations and Russia — to do more to nudge Israel and the Palestinians to peace.
"The European Union is ready to step up its involvement" in the peace process, Ashton said in an address to the Arab League in Cairo, opening a four-day tour of the Middle East.
Ashton said the EU would support a Palestinian state with agreed changes to the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine.
The EU is also ready to extend aid to Palestinians — if there is credible movement to a two-state solution — and consider "further political, financial and security guarantees," Ashton said, without elaborating.
The security comment referred to an EU peacekeeping mission in southernLebanon, a police training mission in the West Bank and a bordermonitoring operation on the Israel-Gaza border.
These missions were launched several years ago in response to Israeli demands for more law and order in Palestinian areas.
Theinternational community, Ashton said, including our Arab nations"should offer guarantees to the parties so they can take the necessarysteps toward peace."