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Europe ‘is on a collision course with Israel’

An EU report has been leaked in which proposals are outlined for putting pressure on Israel to return to negotiations with the Palestinians. According to Yedioth Ahranoth, a European diplomatic source said that there was a definite chance that the recommendations in the report were more likely to be implemented following Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement that a Palestinian state would not be created during his term in office.

The source claimed that the EU member states have yet to approve the proposal. “We are on a collision course,” said the diplomat. “It is clear to everyone in Brussels that there must be a response to such a statement.” The EU, he added, does not believe Netanyahu’s subsequent backtracking on the creation of a Palestinian state. He hinted that the election results and expected formation of a right-wing government in Israel mean that the recommendations will be taken especially seriously by the EU.

Europe is interested in having a positive relationship with Israel, he insisted, but regards Israel as an entity that does not extend beyond the Green Line, the Armistice Line of 1948 accepted generally as the border of the state. “If Israel continues its policy beyond the Green Line, it will affect the relationship between European nations and Israel,” he warned.

Yedioth Ahranoth said that the EU is keen to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table after peace talks collapsed last year. The bloc’s new foreign policy chief is seeking to reinvigorate European involvement in the talks.

Israel should make “every effort” to ensure an early resumption of the Middle East peace process, the EU said in a series of annual reports assessing progress on democracy and human rights in countries close to the 28-nation union.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini wants to involve Arab states in the work of the Middle East Quartet, which comprises the United States, the UN, the EU and Russia. Rather than expanding the Quartet, it would hold more frequent top-level meetings with at least Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, senior diplomats have said.

In its reports, the EU called on Israel to ensure respect for international law and human rights in the Palestinian territories. While Europe recognised Israel’s right to defend itself, the “devastating effect” of last year’s Israeli war on civilians in Gaza “underlined the significant challenges attached to Israel’s responsibilities in the occupied territories.”

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