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EU seeks unity for Middle East peace push

Updated: 2015-07-22 07:55
By Agencies in Brussels (China Daily)

The European Union wants to form a broader, UN-backed coalition to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, inspired by Europe's role in the recent nuclear deal with Iran.

Taking up a French proposal, EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to try to create an "international support group" more than a year after the collapse of a US-brokered peace push envisaging a Palestinian state coexisting with Israel. The EU wants to open the door for more countries to get involved.

"This week tells us that diplomacy in the long run can deliver," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, referring to the July 14 deal in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for an end to sanctions.

Right now "there seems to be no peace process at all" between Israel and the Palestinians, Mogherini said.

She said a new regional and international framework is necessary to foster a more positive environment.

The EU foreign ministers' plan envisages obtaining formal approval for the so-called support group at the UN General Assembly in New York in September, then a UN Security Council resolution to set parameters for a peace deal.

Part of the reason for seeking an international coalition is the deep internal divisions within the 28-nation EU over Middle East policy that limit its ability to take an active role.

Participants in the Iran nuclear accord were world powers Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany. EU diplomats see a chance to involve many more countries than those in the Middle East Quartet - the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia - that has promoted Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking with little practical effect.

Under the EU proposal, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the larger European economies including Spain and Italy, and Arab nations could play a bigger role.

Mogherini, who met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in May, sees a chance for EU diplomacy in the absence of a new diplomatic initiative from Washington as US President Barack Obama approaches the end of his final term.

Reuters - AP


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