The European Union on Monday urged Israelis and Palestinians to restart their peace negotiations, welcoming the Fatah-Hamas unity deal that led Israel to suspend the talks last month but emphasizing that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas alone is authorized to negotiate on behalf of his people.
“The EU underlines that Mahmoud Abbas, as President of the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization], remains fully in charge of the negotiation process and is mandated to negotiate in the name of all Palestinians and that the peace negotiations can and must be resumed,” the union’s foreign ministers said at a meeting in Brussels.
The EU also called on both sides to “exercise maximum restraint and to avoid any unilateral action which may further undermine peace efforts and the viability of a two-state-solution.” In this context, the joint statement mentioned “continued settlement expansion” — which many in the international community blame for the collapse of the talks – but did not refer to the Palestinian application to 15 international treaties on April 1, a unilateral step Israel argues was partly responsible for the end of the talks.
“The European Union will continue to closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and will act accordingly,” the EU ministers said.
“The EU has consistently supported intra-Palestinian reconciliation on clear and certain terms,” the ministers explained. Europe is ready to financially support the future Palestinian government, they stated, but only if it commits to nonviolence and a two-state solution and accepts previous agreements and obligations, including recognizing Israel’s legitimate right to exist.
“The EU’s engagement with a new Palestinian government will be based on its adherence to these policies and commitments,” the ministers stated. “Reconciliation on these terms is an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution and a lasting peace.”
At the same time, the EU reiterated its offer to grant both Israelis and Palestinians a “Special Privileged Partnership,” which would entail “unprecedented economic, political and security support” for both parties after the signing of final-status agreement.
“Extremely concerned” about the current stalemate in the US-brokered talks, the European ministers warned that the “extensive efforts deployed in recent months must not go to waste.” The EU urged both parties to try to “find the common ground and political strength needed to resume this process and to make the necessary bold decisions.”