STRASBOURG, Wednesday, March 15, 2023 (WAFA) – The European Union seeks to contribute to the Arab Peace Initiative as part of its efforts to bring peace to the Middle East conflict, according to Josep Borrell, EU High Representative and Vice President.
Speaking to the European Parliament on the situation in Israel and Palestine, Borrell said that in a recent meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister and the Arab League Secretary-General, “we agreed to work together towards a viable solution, in order to revive and build on the Arab Peace Initiative, also by adding a European peace contribution to it. And in this effort, we will be working closely with other Arab and international partners.”
Borrell stressed that the EU is a strong believer in the two-state solution, “and there is no - we believe - viable alternative to that. With our international partners, we will continue to work for a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
He said that the European Union “has to engage in looking for peace in the Middle East. And that the Middle East Peace Process is something that matters to us, and we are engaged in that… we do it because we believe that it is our contribution to the security in the region and to our security too.”
Borrell said that the situation in in the occupied Palestinian territory is grave, and that “violence has reached levels unseen since 2005 with an appalling number of victims, including children.”
He reiterated the EU position on settlements, stressing that they are illegal under international law. “Settlements are illegal under international law and their expansion must stop, as well as demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes. The Israeli government must seriously counter the violence of settler extremists and hold perpetrators accountable. And military operations must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. It is difficult not to agree on that.”
He added: “The international community must act as well to help bring about renewed perspectives for peace. And we need renewed international efforts to help both Israelis and Palestinians to think through their options. And in order to contribute to it, on the 13 of February, I met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal [Bin Farhan Al Saud] and with Arab League Secretary-General Aboul Gheit and we agreed to work together towards a viable solution, in order to revive and build on the Arab Peace Initiative, also by adding a European peace contribution to it. And in this effort, we will be working closely with other Arab and international partners.
“We must help to create the conditions where it would be advantageous for Israelis and Palestinians to go back to the negotiation table and talk. And nothing will make me happier [than] to be able to contribute, from the [side of] European Union, to prepare this process.
“I think everybody in this chamber agrees that the European Union should do all we can in order to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the Middle East and [to reach] peace between Israel and Palestine. This, and nothing else, is what is moving us, and in particular me.”