EU paper on solving Mideast conflict worries Israel
- EU paper on solving Mideast conflict worries Israel
By Barak Ravid Haaretz Last update - 07:13 01/12/2008
Israeli officials are deeply concerned over an internal European Union
document outlining the EU's plans for advancing an Israeli-Palestinian deal
in 2009. Inter alia, it calls for increased pressure on Israel to reopen
Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, including Orient House, which
formerly served as the Palestinian Authority's headquarters in the city.
The document, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, was written by the
French Foreign Ministry, as France currently occupies the EU's rotating
It is slated to be discussed next week at a meeting of the EU's foreign
ministers, and Israel is trying to get various elements changed before then.
Titled "The EU Action Strategy for Peace in the Middle East: The Way
Forward," the document proposes various steps the EU should take in 2009 on
both the Palestinian and the Syrian tracks, with emphasis on the former.
However, its proposals are liable to result in a clash with whatever new
government Israelis elect in February, whether headed by Tzipi Livni or
The EU, it states, must encourage the newly elected American government to
be actively engaged in Israeli-Palestinian talks.
In addition, the document states, the international community must closely
monitor implementation of the first stage of the road map peace plan, which
requires Israel to freeze settlement construction and remove West Bank
roadblocks, and the PA to fight terror.
Regarding the so-called core issues of the conflict - borders, security,
Jerusalem and refugees - the document proposes three main lines of action.
"A key part of building the Palestinian state involves resolving the status
of Jerusalem, as the future capital of two states," it declares. Therefore,
"the EU will work actively towards the re-opening of the Palestinian
institutions, including the Orient House."
Orient House, which once served as the PA's de facto Foreign Ministry, was
closed in August 2001 following the deadly terror attack on Jerusalem's
Sbarro restaurant. Since then, successive Israeli governments have refused
to reopen it, as it symbolized Palestinian claims to sovereignty in East
On security, the document expresses EU willingness to play a role in
Israeli-Palestinian security arrangements, mainly by sending policemen,
soldiers or civilians to help train Palestinian security forces or to
supervise implementation of a final-status agreement.
Regarding the refugees, the document says an "agreed, just, fair and
realistic" solution must be found, adding that the EU would be willing to
help establish and operate an international mechanism to compensate and
rehabilitate Palestinian refugees.
The document praises the PA for having greatly improved security in the West
Bank, and therefore concludes that Israel must transfer additional large
swathes of this territory to Palestinian security control. "During the
coming period, Palestinian security presence should be expanded beyond
cities," it says.
In addition, it notes, the EU "expects a complete freeze of all settlement
activities including natural growth, including in East Jerusalem ... The EU
will continue to send clear messages to Israel and examine practical ways to
exert more influence on these issues, including on goods from settlements."