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22 Jan, 2024 10:48

EU rallying member states to threaten Israel – FT

Brussels wants West Jerusalem to suffer “consequences” if it refuses to budge on Palestinian sovereignty, the outlet claims
EU rallying member states to threaten Israel – FT

The EU has called on its members to warn Israel of “consequences” if it refuses to recognize a Palestinian state, a move many in the bloc say is necessary to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

According to a document prepared ahead of talks between EU foreign ministers and senior Israeli and Arab officials, Brussels has reportedly proposed that member states “set out the consequences they envisage to attach to engagement or non-engagement” by Israel with the plan.

Previous reports suggested that the EU has called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a prerequisite for sustainable peace and the normalization of ties between Israel and the Arab world. Publicly, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell declared on Monday that “from now on I will not talk about the peace process, but I want a two-state-solution process.” 

Commenting on the document seen by the FT, one EU official told the outlet that the bloc had both “incentives and disincentives” to convince Israel to heed the call. He specifically mentioned the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which removed numerous trade barriers between the two sides. The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner and accounts for more than 30% of its imports.

An FT source also noted that the plan reflected anger among some EU members at Israel’s reluctance to embrace a two-state solution, while cautioning that “it is hard to impose on [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.” The official added, however, that the Israeli leader “may not be around forever.” 

Netanyahu reiterated his opposition to Palestinian statehood on Sunday, insisting that he “will not compromise on full Israeli security control over all the territory west of the Jordan [River].” He has also repeatedly said that Israel will not end its war against Hamas until the Palestinian armed group is destroyed.

Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, with the ensuing conflict killing more than 1,200 Israelis and 25,000 Palestinians, and bringing unprecedented destruction to Gaza. Despite numerous calls to end hostilities, Israel has been reluctant to do so. The only brief pause in the fighting was in late November, when Hamas released around 100 Israeli hostages in exchange for Israel freeing some 240 Palestinian prisoners.