Monday 15 June 2009

EU won't upgrade its ties with Israel and the usual cacophony

Unsurprising decision, attended by the usual European cacophony from the good friends and the not so good friends of Israel.

uropean Union foreign ministers welcomed on Monday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's endorsement of the goal of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel as expressed in his Bar Ilan speech on Sunday evening, but said it was not enough to raise EU-Israel ties to a higher level, Reuters reported.

The ministers, who were due to meet Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman later on Monday, questioned the preconditions cited by Netanyahu for establishing a Palestinian state, as well as his defense of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"That's good but it's only a first step," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said before the talks in Luxembourg.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also said that Netanyahu's speech was "not sufficient." "Nothing was said on the settlements ... but this stopping of the settlements is essential," said Kouchner, who in an earlier statement rejected any preconditions to peace negotiations.

The EU and Israel have agreed in principle to upgrade an "association agreement" defining their ties, but the 27-nation bloc has put the upgrade on a hold, and says it wants a firm commitment from Israel to seek a so-called two-state peace accord with the Palestinians.

Other EU ministers joined US President Barack Obama in expressing support for Netanyahu's "endorsement." Netanyahu's endorsement of a Palestinian state is a "step in the right direction," Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country holds the EU presidency, said on Monday.
Kohout added that while the prime minister's comments on Sunday needed more analysis "the acceptance of a Palestinian state is there."

Kohout spoke to reporters upon arrival at a session of EU foreign ministers who were meeting with Lieberman.

Source: TJP

The Netherlands ...
- Dutch government split on Israel ties
- Geert Wilders: EU is not Israel's friend

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