Sunday

22nd Jul 2018

Israel urges EU to back new peace plan for Syria

  • Peres in Strasbourg - got a standing ovation, but many MEPs are critical of Israel's settlement actions (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Israeli President Shimon Peres has urged the EU to get behind his novel idea on how to stop the war in Syria - by sending in Arab peacekeepers under a UN mandate.

Speaking to press in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday (12 March), he said the world "cannot stand by when a massacre is carried out by the Syrian President against his own people and his own children."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

He noted that Western military intervention would not be acceptable to Syrian people.

But he said the Arab League has the right profile to send in a peacekeeping force under UN auspices - "an Arab Force with blue helmets" - to stop the two sides from tearing each other apart.

He urged the EU and the wider international community to "get the UN to back an Arab League mission in Syria … to prevent Syria from falling to pieces."

Earlier during a speech in plenary, he singled out Iran as the "greatest danger to peace" in the world.

He denounced it for "aiming to build a nuclear weapon" and for human rights abuses.

He also reiterated his call on the EU to "call terror, terror" and to place the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which he described as "Iran's proxy," on its blacklist.

"Hezbollah, supported by Iran, is destroying Lebanon," he told MEPs.

"Hezbollah is a terror organisation, not a political movement," he added.

His visit to Strasbourg concludes a rare tour of Europe, after meetings with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission boss Jose Manuel Barroso and Belgian and French leaders last week.

It comes after Bulgaria blamed Hezbollah for a bomb which killed five Jewish tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver last year.

Blacklisting Hezbollah would be a financial and political blow against the only Arab force which has stood up to the Israeli army in recent years.

The UK and the Netherlands have already done it.

But other EU countries, including France, the old colonial power in Lebanon, are reluctant to take the step in case it destabilises the country and the wider region still further.

Meanwhile, Israel's own credibility as a peacemaker came up for debate in the EU parliament.

EU diplomats and ministers have deplored Israel's recent plans to build new settlements in a part of Palestine that would cut it off from Jerusalem.

A group of 22 MEPs from the Green, Liberal and left-wing groups sent an open letter on the subject to EU foreign affairs chief Cathy Ashton and trade commissioner Karel de Gucht on Monday.

They said the settlements breach the terms of the EU-Israel association agreement and that the pact should be suspended unless Israel stops.

Speaking alongside Peres at a news conference on Tuesday, Parliament President Martin Schultz also noted that some countries, such as Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK, are putting special labels on settler-made exports to enable European consumers to vote with their wallets.

He said the subject is "one of the most delicate and controversial issues on the table."

But he added that an "overwhelming majority" of MEPs are critical of settlement expansion.

For his part, Peres noted that West Bank settlements account for just 2 percent of the occupied territory.

"Don't try to intervene on one issue one-sidedly," he warned.

He said that Israel is committed to a two-state solution and that "the time is now to reopen negotiations with the Palestinians."

Put Hezbollah on EU terror list, Israeli President says

Israeli President Shimon Peres has urged the EU to put Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organisations, claiming that failure to do so would be an indication that the EU was prepared to tolerate its actions.

Question marks over EU sanctions on Iran

Greece is temporarily blocking an EU gas embargo on Iran. But the big question is: are EU sanctions hurting or helping Iranian leader Ali Khamenei?

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us