Former senior European officials warn of ‘dying’ peace process

Former senior European officials warn of ‘dying’ peace process

In letter to EU foreign policy chief, authors say Western policies are 'preserving the occupation,' call for complete settlement freeze

A Palestinian protester cuts part of the security barrier near the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 17. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
A Palestinian protester cuts part of the security barrier near the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 17. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

A group of former senior European officials have called on European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to change the EU policy on Middle East peace in favor of a more aggressive approach.

In a letter to Ashton obtained by Maariv, the former officials — who include Ashton’s predecessor Javier Solana, former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato, former French prime minister Lionel Jospin, and former EU Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos — call on the EU to demand a full moratorium on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and to redefine Israel as an occupying state, legally responsible for everything that happens in the West Bank.

“Future generations will think it is unforgivable that we, the Europeans, neglected to prevent the further destruction of the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination,” reads the letter.

The communiqué called on Ashton to ensure that the 1967 lines not be blurred and to differentiate between the legitimate Israel, within the 1967 lines, and the “illegal occupation” that is taking place beyond them.

The letter’s authors describe the peace process as “dying” and warn of a deterioration of human rights in the West Bank. The document stresses that any final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians must be based on the two-state solution and warns that, in the current situation, Israel’s security and stability cannot be ensured.

“It is time to provide a clear warning that the current Western policies are preserving the occupation,” continued the letter, adding that accumulated evidence indicates a failure by the US to advance equal status for the Palestinians and a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

“EU inaction in light of the impasse is unethical and unwise,” reads the note, urging a more aggressive approach to the advancement of peace.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday underlined the difficulty he faces in trying to chart a path toward Mideast peace, urging patience on the details of any two-state plan, but also stressing that Israel and the Palestinians might only have two years left for a deal.

He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he was committed to breaking the logjam, which includes almost no Israeli-Palestinian talks in the past four-and-a-half years and no solution in sight after more than six decades of conflict.

Kerry, who visited Jerusalem and the West Bank last week, said he sensed a “seriousness of purpose” in his meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He said the objective now is translating that seriousness into quick action.

“I can guarantee you that I am committed to this, because I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting,” Kerry told lawmakers. “I think we have some period of time — a year… a year-and-a-half to two years, or it’s over.”

“Everybody I talk to in the region and all of the supporters globally who care … want us to move forward on a peace effort,” he added. “They’re all worried about the timing here. So there’s an urgency to this, in my mind, and I intend on behalf of the president’s instructions to honor that urgency and see what we can do to move forward.”

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