Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned that Israel and the Palestinians will face more unrest over the next years if the long-stalled peace process would not be revived, while emphasizing that the European Union must be part of such a process. Minister Coveney, who met Israeli and Palestinian leaders less than a month after taking up his post in June, is leading the charge to involve the EU in a fresh attempt by the United States at re-starting negotiations to resolve the decades old conflict.
Speaking to EU Foreign Ministers at a meeting on Middle East policy in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, the Irish top diplomat stressed that the European Union had a duty to make its voice heard in any new peace initiative by Washington, considering the fact that the European Union is currently the Palestinians’ biggest aid donor and Israel’s top trade partner.
Minister Coveney, who held a meeting with US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, asserted that it was crucial to focus on advancing the internationally aspired two state solution, a reality the Coveney asserted “can inspire a new generation toward a different type of future.” He said, “There will always be this open sore that actually at times erupts into violence and tension. And what we have at the moment is a low level of tension and violence, but at any given point as we’ve seen recently in Jerusalem that could spark into something much bigger. That has happened relating to Gaza repeatedly and in my view could happen again if we don’t come up with medium to long term solutions here, that understand people’s legitimate aspirations. Everybody is against violence, everybody wants to stamp out terrorism and extremism. But we need to create the political conditions that make that a lot easier. Then we deal with the legitimate Israeli concerns around lasting security but we’ve also got to deal with Palestinian aspirations to have and run their own state. So, that they can inspire a new generation towards a different type of future,” the Irish top diplomat asserted.
Hurdles for the European Union include its range of positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Germany – which is the most powerful EU-member state – supporting Israel in a strong and vocal manner, while Sweden on the other hand actively supporting the Palestinian stance, with a 2014 decision by Stockholm to officially recognize a state of Palestine. While the European Union continues to bolster its relations with Israel, with the latest report pointing to an anticipated high-level meeting with the Jewish State that aims to broaden trade and other economic links later this years, the first such meeting since 2012, the bloc’s division on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has significantly weakened the Union’s involvement and ability to influence the process.