Wednesday

23rd Aug 2017

Ashton shows pro-Palestinian side at EU parliament

  • Ashton. Pro-Israeli EU countries say she is not a neutral broker (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton showed her pro-Palestinian sympathies at the European Parliament on Tuesday (27 September) as MEPs get set to back the UN upgrade.

She began the meeting in Strasbourg with a formal statement against Israel's new decision to build 1,100 Jewish housing units on Palestinian land at its Gilo settlement.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"This plan should be reversed. Settlement activity threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution and runs contrary to the Israeli stated commitment to resume negotiations," she said.

She later added on a personal note: "I have condemned settlement activity every time it was announced - I have made six statements this year, plus one Quartet [a joint EU, Russia, UN and US body] statement plus the comment today ... Each time I have met him [Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu] I have told him settlements are illegal under international law."

She also praised Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad: "They are people who hold the values we hold dear in their hearts. They believe in the values we hold ... I believe Israel could do no better than negotiate with them."

Pro-Israeli countries such as the Netherlands have said Ashton is not a neutral broker in talks on whether the EU should back Palestine's bid to join the UN. Her own officials say she was deeply affected by Palestinian hardships on recent visits to Gaza and the West Bank.

MEPs will on Thursday vote on a draft resolution which says the EU assembly: "Supports and calls on member states to be united in addressing the legitimate demand of the Palestinian people to be represented as a state at the United Nations."

The text already has the backing of the socialist, liberal, green and far-left groups. The language is designed to accommodate various opinions - socialists say Palestine should get full UN membership, while liberals say they should become a "non-member state."

The biggest group, the centre-right EPP, is still making up its mind. But senior EPP figures, such as German deputy Hans-Gert Poettering and Dutch member Ria Oomen-Ruijten, spoke up for Palestine in the plenary debate.

Meanwhile, EU countries have voiced clear divisions at the UN in New York over the past week. Ten (Belgium, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) are on the pro-upgrade side. Five (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Romania and the UK) have indicated they would vote No. The rest are keeping quiet.

"Provocative of Israel to announce new settlements in East Jerusalem now. Clearly contrary to Middle East peace Quartet demand," Swedish foreign minister Carl Bldt tweeted on Tuesday.

For his part, Netanyahu in an interview with the Jerusalem Post the same day showed little interest in what the EU thinks. "We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for years - since the end of the 1967 war," he said.

EU opinions multiply on Palestinian UN upgrade

Five EU countries have joined France in saying the UN should upgrade Palestine's status. Three have joined the UK in saying No. Others fall in between the two camps or are staying out of the debate for now.

EU to celebrate Shalit swap despite concerns

The EU is set to cheer the German-orchestrated release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, expected on Tuesday, despite concerns it could pave the way for military strikes on Hamas and Iran.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

News in Brief

  1. Air Berlin insolvency talks begin amid 'stitch-up' accusation
  2. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  3. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  4. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  5. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  6. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  7. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  8. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference