EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton has said that Europe is “very disappointed” by Israel’s settlement policy. Speaking to Turkey’s Okaz newspaper, Ashton stressed that it is the EU’s view that there is no alternative to the two-state solution and that Israeli settlements constitute one of the obstacles to the peace process in the Middle East.
Asked about the future of peace negotiations following US President Obama’s visit to the region, Ashton said, “We have affirmed repeatedly that achieving peace in the Middle East will lead to stability for both Israel and the Palestinians. On this basis, we stress the two-state option and the EU’s commitment to achieve this goal.” Although there are no arrangements for a meeting of the international Quartet, she added, “We are following, with interest, the result of the US President’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and what the future plan will be for engaging with a peace process that is based on the UN’s international resolutions.”
Moving on to the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), Ashton stated, “The last meeting of the Joint Liaison Committee in Brussels was of great importance because we focused on two important issues: first, there is no alternative to the two-state solution as an inevitable result of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority; second, we are convinced of the importance of coordination with Arab countries who have political and financial weight, as well as cooperation with the United States and the United Nations.”
Ashton pointed out that the EU has emphasised, in this context, “Israel’s right to security”, which is a goal that can be achieved through a comprehensive and fair peace process. “We see that the declaration of a democratic Palestinian state will lead to stability and security, not only in the two countries but also in the entire region.” The EU, she said, is “very disappointed” by Israel’s current settlements policy, which conflicts with all aspirations to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Welcoming the new Israeli government, however, the Foreign Affairs head said that the EU seeks to cooperate with it to develop bilateral relations and pave the way for the two-state solution.