EU warns of Mideast violence without political progress
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EU warns of Mideast violence without political progress

In first visit to Israel as new foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini says there is an ‘urgency’ to renew peace talks

The European Union's new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini listens to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman during a press conference in Jerusalem, November 7, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Thomas Coex)
The European Union's new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini listens to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman during a press conference in Jerusalem, November 7, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/Thomas Coex)

The European Union’s new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini warned Friday of a new wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence if there is no progress towards peace talks.

Speaking in Jerusalem on her first visit to the region since taking up the EU’s top diplomatic post, Mogherini said there was a real “urgency” to pick up and advance the moribund peace process.

“The risk is that if we do not move forward on the political track, we will go back… again to violence,” she told reporters at a joint news conference with her Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

“That’s why I see the urgency in moving forward.”

But she also flagged up Israel’s settlement building — on lands the Palestinians want for a future state — as an “obstacle” to a negotiated peace.

“New settlements are an obstacle as we see it, but we also see that there might be a political will… to resume the talks and specially to make sure that these talks bring results,” she continued.

The United Kingdom joined the US and others Thursday in condemning Wednesday’s car-ramming attack in Jerusalem, in which two people were killed and over a dozen injured.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond condemned what he called “appalling terrorist attacks,” saying his thoughts “are with everyone affected.”

Israeli security personnel at the site where an Arab man from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat drove his car into a crowd of people waiting at a light rail station in Jerusalem, November 05, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Israeli security personnel at the site where an Arab man from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat drove his car into a crowd of people waiting at a Jerusalem Light Rail station, November 5, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

His statement followed similar condemnations from the United Nations, the European Union, Canada and the US.

Hammond also expressed concern over the “growing tensions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the violent clashes at Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount on Wednesday morning in which a number of Palestinians were injured.

“Every Israeli and Palestinian has a right to live in peace and security,” he added.

United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the UN was “deeply concerned about the continued violence and tensions we’re seeing in Jerusalem,” adding that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attack.

Dujarric said the situation in Jerusalem, as well as Israeli restrictions on access to the holy sites, “need to be urgently deescalated.”

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement that Canada deplores “recent attacks where vehicles were driven intentionally into innocent bystanders. Such cowardly acts of terrorism are completely unacceptable and should be widely condemned.

“The perpetrators of these attacks are responsible for aggravating an already tense situation. Leadership is required to prevent such violent acts and to restore calm,” he added.

US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the terror attack in Jerusalem as “an atrocity.” He called on both sides to “step back and find a way to create enough calm and enough space to be able to negotiate these difficult issues.”

Jordan and Turkey have also condemned the clashes on the Temple Mount, but have pinned most of the blame on Israel.

On Wednesday, Jordan recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv in protest at the clashes on the Temple Mount, and threatened to file a complaint with the UN. Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “so that we don’t have another Gaza and we don’t have these continuous violations and unilateral actions.”

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted by the Daily Sabah as saying: “Israel’s violation on the al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest places in the world, is cruelty to the core. We will make the necessary efforts to ensure that the international community give the most active response against the Israeli aggression. I also call on the world and the Muslim community to protect the al-Aqsa Mosque.”

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