EU: Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a ‘top priority’
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EU: Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a ‘top priority’

During Brussels meeting with Abbas, Mogherini reiterates opposition to settlements, hails Trump's interest in resolving conflict

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini give a press conference following their meeting at the European Commission in Brussels on March 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini give a press conference following their meeting at the European Commission in Brussels on March 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)

The European Union said on Monday that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a “top priority” and that it welcomes the US administration’s expressed interest in brokering a peace agreement between the sides.

“Peace between Israel and Palestine is a top priority for the European Union and it will remain a top priority in our political agenda. We remain committed to a negotiated two-state solution. That remains for us the only viable way to end the conflict and all claims,” the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said.

Addressing reporters in Brussels after a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Mogherini reiterated the EU’s principled opposition to Israeli West Bank settlements, which it “considers to be illegal under international law.”

The EU will recognize any changes to the pre-1967 lines only after they have been agreed upon by the parties, she said, alluding to Israel’s insistence on retaining settlement blocs through land swaps. The union continues to envision Jerusalem as the “future capital of both states,” she added. “And we support Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem, both in political and financial terms.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission in Brussels on March 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission in Brussels on March 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)

Acknowledging the “changing international political environment,” Mogherini spoke optimistically about the White House’s effort to broker a peace deal.

“We welcome the fact that the US administration shows interest in solving the Middle East peace process and we agreed to coordinate closely positions,” she said.

Mogherini thanked Abbas for his leadership and “his commitment when it comes to nonviolence and when it comes to the difficult work he’s doing when it comes to incitement and maintaining Palestinian people, and especially the Palestinian youth, committed to peace and regional cooperation.”

Abbas, for his part, said, “We hope the government of Israel and the Israeli people will not waste this opportunity for peace.”

“In light of the desire of the US administration, led by US President Donald Trump, to move toward peacemaking, our meeting today was important in order to discuss the latest developments in international efforts to find the best ways to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting solution between us and the Israelis,” he added.

The “continuation of settlement activities and expropriation of Palestinian land will lead to the one-state situation with an apartheid system. Repression and occupation will not bring security and peace, which come only through justice, equality and good neighborly relations,” the Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted him as saying.

Since Abbas received an invitation to visit the White House during a brief phone call from Trump early in March, he has been shuttling around the region and coordinating stances with regional allies about the peace process.

“I have assured President Trump that we are ready to make a peace deal,” Abbas said.

During his visit to the EU headquarters in Brussels, Abbas also met with EU Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

Later this week, both Mogherini and Abbas are scheduled to be in Jordan for the Arab League summit, which is expected to focus heavily on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited the region and met with key stakeholders, will participate as an observer.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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