Friday 17 December 2010

Minuscule Luxembourg wants to punish Israel

"There is growing frustration with Israel after its refusal to commit to a new settlements freeze," (European diplomat)

See also by Melanie Phillips The Europeans move in for the kill

Europe being Europe, even tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with a population of  barely half a million wants to punish Israel.

BRUSSELS (AFP-EJP)---The European Union on Monday reaffirmed its readiness to recognize a Palestinian state at an "appropriate" time but stopped short of outright recognition despite mounting pressure to break the Middle East impasse.

Pressure has built on the European Union to flex muscle after Israel refused to extend a moratorium on construction in the West Bank, with 26 former European leaders last week demanding sanctions, and Argentina and Uruguay joining Brazil in recognizing an independent Palestinian state. [...]

"There is growing frustration with Israel after its refusal to commit to a new settlements freeze," a European diplomat told AFP as negotiators quibbled and clashed over a joint EU stand.

But after long and prickly negotiations, Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels adopted a statement that "notes with regret that Israel has not extended the moratorium as requested by the EU, the US and the Quartet," describing settlements as "illegal" and "an obstacle to peace."

In the letter to Ashton released last week, 26 former EU leaders, including her predecessor Javier Solana, urged her to threaten Israel with sanctions for failing to respect the freeze.  But the idea was apparently rejected by a majority at the ministerial meeting although some among them, like Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, were in favour of a "tougher" stance against Israel.

Going into the talks, Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said the recognition of a Palestinian state had "always been on the table. But at this stage it's too early."  German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it was vital to avoid action that could compromise Israeli-Palestinian talks, "including unilateral moves". [...]"
- Luxembourg boys school: physics or incitement to hatred?

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