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Crisis of trust between Israel and Europe

January 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Reports from Israel claim that there is a “crisis of trust” with the European Union over its position on settlements and refusal to put Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organisations. Israel, says the Jerusalem Post, cannot trust the EU “at the right level” as a major player in the peace process.

Israeli government officials will inform the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy that the European “obsession with focusing on settlements undermines efforts to revive the peace talks”. Cathy Ashton, who is expected to arrive in the region on Thursday, will also hear that the EU’s stance “could give the Palestinians the impression that whatever they do, the European diplomatic fire will remain pointed towards Israel.”

According to one of the anonymous officials, the Palestinians will feel that they have a “blank cheque” if Europe continues to put so much emphasis on settlements, the labelling of goods produced therein and Israel’s need to transfer more of Area C to Palestinian control. “The Palestinians will not be held accountable by Europe for their refusal to return to negotiations,” the official said. “We will inform Ashton that this policy undermines the efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry with regard to the resumption of negotiations at a time when he needs the EU’s support.”

The newspaper reported the officials’ view that current relations between Israel and Brussels are “not good”. Ashton’s talks with Iran are also, it is alleged, “frustrating” for the Israelis.

Although the Israeli official noted that the inclusion of Hezbollah on the EU list of terrorist entities requires the agreement of all 27 member states, which lets Ashton off the hook, he suggested that Brussels could do more to persuade those opposed to the Lebanese group’s listing, particularly Ireland and the Scandinavian countries to agree to the move.

Cathy Ashton is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni, the Minister of Justice with responsibility for negotiations during her visit.