Sunday

16th Jun 2019

EU-Israel meeting ends with no progress on 'upgrade'

  • Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the year saw the EU put the planned upgrade on ice (Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi)

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman ended his first EU visit on Monday (15 June) evening without securing a previously planned "upgrade" in EU-Israel relations.

EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg earlier in the day had said that an offer by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to create a demilitarised Palestinian state was welcome but insufficient to warrant any significant advance in bilateral relations.

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.

... or join as a group

The phrase repeatedly used by EU officials - echoing similar language from Washington - was that Mr Netanyahu's offer, made during a speech on Sunday night, was a "good step," but only a step.

"The EU welcomes the initial step following the Israeli policy review announced by Prime Minister Netanyahu, of a commitment to a peace that will include the creation of a Palestinian state," said Czech foreign minister Jan Kohout, whose country currently holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency.

"It is very important that we see from the new Israeli government and the prime minister for the first time the mentioning of the two-state solution. This is a very important first step," EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters.

But EU ministers reminded Israel that it must also stop building Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land, describing the activity as illegal under international law.

"The Council [of Ministers] is deeply concerned by the recent increase in settlement activities, house demolitions and evictions in the Palestinian territories, especially in East Jerusalem. The EU re-iterates that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace," the ministers said in a statement.

"We have insisted on the freezing of settlements. We hope very much this will be a reality," said the EU's chief diplomat, Javier Solana. UK foreign minister David Miliband also said Israel must deliver a "complete freeze" on settlements.

The EU diplomats underlined that Israel's blockade of aid deliveries to Gaza is another pre-condition for peace. According to Oxfam, Israel blocks the entry of all items but emergency food aid, arresting development in the strip.

In March 2009, the government of Israel prevented US-funded food parcels from entering Gaza due to the inclusion of canned tuna, biscuits and jam. They were added to a long list of items "under review," which included wooden toys and maths and science kits.

Some EU ministers on Monday questioned the Israeli prime minister's commitment to a two-state solution.

"The fact that he uttered the word state is a small step forward," said Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, adding: "whether what he mentioned can be defined as a state is a subject of some debate."

French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner too was sceptical that Mr Netanyahu's speech was a genuine endorsement of a viable state for the Palestinians. "Without a Palestinian state there is no chance for peace in the region," he said.

Franco Frattini, the former EU commissioner and current foreign minister of Italy - which has been one of Israel's strongest backers in the Council, described the Israeli leader's wording over Jerusalem as "worrying."

Mr Netanyahu had reiterated his government's stance that Jerusalem is the "united capital of Israel," - dashing Palestinian hopes they could one day situate their own capital in occupied East Jerusalem.

"We must say quite clearly today there can only be talk of an upgrade when the peace process is on its way," said Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn, "and for that we need a few steps more."

Trump advocates no-deal Brexit on eve of UK visit

Johnson and Farage in charge, a no-deal Brexit, chlorinated chicken in British shops, and privatised healthcare - that is what the UK should head towards, Trump and his ambassador have said.

Millions needed by mid-June to feed war-stricken Gazans

The UN is looking for another $60m by mid-June to stave off hunger in the Gaza Strip in the hopes of averting another flashpoint. The demand follows a two-day war earlier this month that killed 25 Palestinians and four Israelis.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

News in Brief

  1. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds
  2. EU ups US imports in beef deal
  3. Unicef: UK among 'least family-friendly' in Europe
  4. Czech PM: No joint 'V4' candidate in commission race
  5. Johnson tops first round to replace May, three eliminated
  6. Bratislava will host new European Labour Authority
  7. Juncker cautions against further climate goals
  8. Study: Counterfeit medicine is a 'growing threat' in EU

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  2. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  3. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  4. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  5. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  6. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC
  7. Europe's oil supplies 'at risk' after tanker attacks
  8. EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us