Tag Archives: Palestine

Borrell concludes EU DIPLOMATS Council

Brussels 12.07.2021 “We started today’s Foreign Affairs Council with a discussion on the external and geopolitical impact of the new digital technologies. These technologies are crucial for our societies and economies. They are becoming an object and a driver of geopolitical competition and global influence. Certainly, global actors are using these new technologies to manipulate the information environment, to influence our public debates and to interfere in our democratic processes” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, concluding the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

As European Union, we need to use our unique capacity as regulatory power, setting global norms and standards to maintain an open system, centred on the rule of law. We want to work together with partners from the United States to the Indo-Pacific, Africa and Latin America.

We agreed with the European External Action Service and the European Commission to continue our work on structuring a coherent digital external policy. For sure, in the months to come we are going to go back to this very much important issue and in order to be prepared for that, at the European External Action Service, we have created a new division to deal with the connectivity and digital transformation issues.

Also, for the first time, the Foreign Ministers discussed the Strategic Compass. It is something that the Ministers of Defence have been involved in on several occasions and will continue being involved in the next informal meeting in September, but today the Foreign Ministers – at their request – have been involved in the discussion about: how to better prepare for future crises; how to reinforce our resilience against threats, for example in the cyber space; how to reinforce our partnerships to meet common challenges; and how to develop a common strategic culture.

I presented to the Ministers the schedule in order to be able, by November, to present a first draft and, by March [next year], to adopt the Strategic Compass. I think that it is a very important initiative. I do not care if it is controversial, I prefer to have controversies [rather] than indifferences and I think that the Foreign Ministers took stock of the importance of this project. Let us hope that by November the Ministers will have a full draft of the Strategic Compass.

Talking about defence and security issues, today we formally established, in a record time, the new European Training Mission for Mozambique. This is the second Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission that is being created during my mandate.

It has been done in a record time, in European terms ‘record time’ does not mean very quickly, but it has been done quicker than in any other mission.

The new mission will be a fundamental part of our response to the government of Mozambique’s request to address the crisis in Cabo Delgado, in the northern part of the country, and to contribute to reinforce and re-establish security.

This mission will train selected Mozambican units to help the armed forces in their efforts to bring back safety and security. This commitment now needs to be properly resourced and accompanied by the adequate assistance measures. So, I have been asking the Member States, once the mission has been agreed, to bring, to provide the means, the staff that this mission will require. It is not going to be a big mission, like the one that we have in Mali, but it is important that the people who will go to Mozambique to train Mozambican units will be highly qualified military elements.

We had a discussion over lunch with the new Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid. You know that the European Union and Israel share deep political, historical and cultural ties.

We had a friendly, open and constructive exchange on our bilateral relations, but also on the situation in the region – especially related to the [Middle East] Peace Process and the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal] negotiations.

The fact that [Foreign] Minister Lapid decided to follow up on my invitation to attend todays’ meeting, and with this to allow for an exchange with the new administration, shows that we have a chance for a fresh start and for strengthening our bilateral relations. But, these bilateral relations are also conditioned to many issues in which we have differences. And the proof is that the Association Agreement meetings have been cancelled since 2012, [as far as] I remember. It is quite a long time, almost 10 years.

We discussed also the Middle East Peace Process. Here I want to stress very clearly that Israel’s security is non-negotiable. We stand firmly for Israel’s security and condemn terrorism, but at the same time, we expect Israel to offer a political perspective to end the conflict. To find a solution with the Palestinians can only contribute to Israel’s security and we have a Foreign Minister from Israel that has publicly been advocating in favour of the ‘two-state solution’ – which is the solution that we, European Union, are strongly supporting.

A credible engagement, a stronger relationship with Israel needs to revive a path towards peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians both alike. We remain ready and willing to support both in the efforts to rebuild a meaningful political process. We know that this is not going to be for tomorrow, we know the special composition of the Israeli government, but we have been very interested in listening the explanations of the Foreign Minister and his good will in order to improve the everyday life of the Palestinians and to advance in cooperation and working together towards resuming the holding of Association Council meetings if the conditions are met.

For this, we need, on one hand, to reach a consensus among Member States and, on the other hand, Israel has also to do its part.

After a long discussion with the Foreign Affairs Minister of the new Israeli government, we went to the discussion on Ethiopia.

You know that the situation in the Tigray region has never been as bad, despite of the ceasefire announced by the government of Ethiopia. What we are seeing in Tigray, what we are afraid Trigay is going to suffer, is a serious humanitarian crisis, with almost 1 million [people] – 850,000 [people] at risk of famine, and ongoing use of violence against civilians and rape as a weapon of war. The ceasefire is a positive step, but what is happening today is that the Tigray region is being cut-off from the rest of the world by destroying critical infrastructure of transportation, and this, as I said, could bring to the region the risk of mass famine.

We, at the European Union, the Commission, will organise an [humanitarian] air bridge to try to bring support to the region, but you can imagine that we cannot solve the problem of a famine affecting 850,000 people. It is something that is out of our capability, it will require the mobilisation – for this almost 1 million people, 850,000 people – of the United Nations agencies, and to ensure humanitarian access. We are ready to support the population, but we call on the Member States to provide donations as a clear sign of European Union solidarity.

[We should focus on these priorities:] To consolidate the ceasefire, the withdrawal of foreign forces from Ethiopian territory. To stop Human Rights violations. And to launch a reconciliation and national dialogue in order to preserve the integrity and political unity of Ethiopia, which remains a clear strategic objective.

Finally, we should be ready to use restrictive measures where we believe they are justified and necessary in advancing these goals. I believe that the situation in Ethiopia would certainly require that we consider this possibility along all options at our disposal. This option, the option of restrictive measures – to my understanding – must be on the table.

With ministers, we also addressed the situation in Afghanistan. The fighting is having a grave impact on civilians. The number of civilian casualties has grown 23% in the first semester of this year. We condemn the increasing targeted attacks against the Hazara community and other religious and ethnic groups.

The Ministers have unanimously urged the Taliban to engage in substantive and inclusive peace negotiations. We also call on countries of the region and the broader international community to play a constructive role in support of the Afghan peace process. I will be reaching out to many of the regional actors in the conference I will be attending in Tashkent, in Uzbekistan(link is external), in the coming days, where we expect the attendance of the President of Afghanistan.

On Lebanon, it seems to me that Europeans are more concerned with the search for a political solution to the country than the Lebanese politicians themselves, which is quite strange. After my visit to Lebanon, the political stalemate persists, the economy is imploding and the suffering of the people of Lebanon is continuously growing. They need to have a Lebanese government in order to avoid a crackdown of the country, fully able to implement the reforms and protect its population. This is in the interest of the Lebanese people, from all confessions and political orientations.

The Ministers reached a political understanding that a sanctions regime against those who are responsible for the situation should be established. In light of the preparatory technical work, the legal acts will be worked on and a decision will be adopted by the Council in order to create this new sanctions regime without delay. I can say that the objective is to complete this by the end of the month. I am not talking about the implementation of the regime, just the building of the regime according with sound legal basis.

On Belarus, the repression by the regime continues. Over the last few weeks, we have seen large-scale bulldozing of the independent media.

We have expressed our full solidarity with Lithuania on the expulsion of their diplomatic staff. We are following closely the situation at the Lithuania-Belarus border, where there are reports that the regime is now sending migrants to the Polish border too.

We call on Belarusian authorities to stick to their international commitments and obligations. We took already a number of restrictive measures and we are ready to consider further response to this behaviour. To use migrants as a weapon, pushing people to the borders is unacceptable and that is what is happening in the Lithuanian and Polish borders.

Finally, Cyprus. We are concerned about developments on the ground in Varosha. The European Union, through the President of the Commission [Ursula von der Leyen] and the President of the European Council [Charles Michel] has repeatedly reaffirmed the status of Varosha and called for the Turkish authorities not to create a situation, which could be against the United Nations decisions. The status of Varosha is set out in relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and it is important, as the two Presidents have directly addressed to the highest authorities in Turkey, to refrain from provocative actions.

Our priority is to focus on getting the Cyprus settlement talks [to restart], that is what we are working on, trying to avoid any kind of trouble, trying to avoid to get trapped in a negative spiral again. Our wish is to work on the settlement of the Cyprus issue. The Ministers today also rejected the two-state solution in Cyprus and on that we are firmly united. Let us hope that we are not going to have, on the following days, reasons for the calling of an extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council”.

EU welcomes Israel-Palestine ceasefire

Brussels 21.05.2021 Israel/Palestine: Statement by the High Representative Josep Borrell on the ceasefire:

The European Union welcomes the announced ceasefire bringing to an end the violence in and around Gaza. We commend Egypt, Qatar, United Nations, United States and others who have played a facilitating role in this.

We are appalled and regret the loss of life over these past 11 days. As the EU has consistently reiterated, the situation in the Gaza Strip has long been unsustainable. Only a political solution will bring sustainable peace and end once for all the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Restoring a political horizon towards a two-state solution now remains of utmost importance. The EU is ready to fully support Israeli and Palestinian authorities in these efforts.

The EU is renewing its engagement with key international partners, including the United States, and other partners in the region, as well as with the revitalised Middle East Quartet, to this end”.

The ceasefire began early on Friday, bringing to an end 11 days of fighting in which more than 250 people were killed, most of them in Gaza.

Palestinians poured on to the streets of Gaza soon after the truce began, while a Hamas official warned the group had not let down its guard.

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory in the conflict.

US President Joe Biden said the ceasefire brought a “genuine opportunity” for progress.

Soon after it started at 02:00 on Friday (23:00 GMT on Thursday), large numbers of Palestinians took to the streets in cars and on foot to celebrate. In Gaza, drivers honked their horns, while loudspeakers from mosques pronounced “the victory of the resistance”.

Israel’s military said it was removing nearly all emergency restrictions on movement throughout the country.

Gaza: EU engaged in de-escalation efforts

Brussels 15.05.2021 The European Union is actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to contribute to defusing the ongoing violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Over the past days, High Representative for foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell has been continuing his outreach to support efforts to de-escalate the extremely worrying situation in the region, especially in and around Gaza. In all his contacts, High Representative Borrell condemned Hamas’ and other groups’ indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian targets in Israel. The High Representative stressed that while Israel has the right to protect its population from these kind of attacks, it must act proportionately and avoid civilian casualties.

In reaching out to his interlocutors, HRVP Borrell has consistently underlined the need to immediately end the grave escalation of violence, prevent its further spillover and ensure that civilians on all sides are protected. He has also called for full respect for international humanitarian law and for full humanitarian access to be granted to those most in need in Gaza.

Root causes that have led to this situation must be addressed. The status quo of the holy sites needs to be respected and any acts of incitement around them avoided, as the HRVP underlined during his contacts. He also recalled the EU’s long-standing position on the need to cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions, including in East Jerusalem.

The EU top diplomat held discussions earlier this week with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. HRVP Borrell also exchanged views with key regional players, including Foreign Minister of Egypt Sameh Shoukry, Foreign Minister of Jordan Ayman Safadi and Foreign Minister of Turkey Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. At the same time, the HRVP remains in close contact with Foreign Ministers of EU Member States in order to coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to ending the current violence.

The HRVP has instructed the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans, to work actively with other envoys from the Middle East Quartet to address the crisis. On the ground, the EU Delegation in Tel Aviv and the EU Representation in Jerusalem are also engaging with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and with Member States representatives.

The EU’s priority and message in this context remains clear: violence must end now. There is an urgent need to address the root causes of the conflict and to find a political pathway, which allows for a return to meaningful negotiations towards a two-state solution based on the internationally agreed parameters. Both Israelis and Palestinians alike have the right to live in safety and security, freedom and democracy. These constant cycles of violence must be brought to an end.

Easter: Pope Francis calls for peace

Brussels 04.04.2021 Francis called for peace in several conflict areas in Africa, including the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia and the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. He added that the crisis in Yemen has been “met with a deafening and scandalous silence”.

The Pontifex appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to “rediscover the power of dialogue” to reach a two-state solution where both can live side by side in peace and prosperity.

In mentioning conflict areas, he singled out for praise “the young people of Myanmar committed to supporting democracy and making their voices heard peacefully”. More than 550 protesters have been killed since a February 1 military coup in Myanmar, which the pope visited in 2017.

Francis said he realised many Christians were still persecuted and called for all restrictions on freedom of worship and religion worldwide to be lifted.

At one point, nearly 9 thousand people were simultaneously celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection with the Pope on Vatican News’ English-language Facebook page alone.

Over 170 broadcast networks and media outlets picked up the Easter broadcasts, which has seen much wider coverage in recent years due to live-streaming.

EU diplomacy discusses Israeli-Palestinian conflict

EU ministers of foreign affairs today on May 15 held a video conference, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell.

They had an in-depth discussion on the Middle East Peace Process. The resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a priority and in the strategic interest of the European Union.

Josep Borrell first had a comprehensive discussion on the Middle East Peace Process in the context of the formation of a new government in Israel. Ministers expressed their willingness to work comprehensively and constructively with the new government once it is sworn in, but also reaffirmed their support for a negotiated two state solution.

Foreign affairs ministers also had a discussion on the Southern Neighbourhood and situation in the wider Middle East, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this context ministers expressed their concern about the socio-economic fallout of the pandemic, and agreed that the current crisis is an opportunity to reflect on the EU’s relations with the region in the medium and long term.

Then ministers approved a statement about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.

EU extends presence at Rafah crossing

The Council has extended the mandate of the EU co-ordinating office for Palestinian police support (EUPOL COPPS) and the mandate of the EU border assistance mission for the Rafah crossing point (EU BAM Rafah), until 30 June 2020. These missions are part of wider EU efforts in support of Palestinian state building in the context of working towards a comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on a two-state solution.

EUPOL COPPS will continue to assist the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions of a future state of Palestine in the areas of policing and criminal justice based on its experience and cooperation with the Palestinian Authority since January 2006. Through its contribution to security and justice sector reform, the mission supports efforts to increase the security of the Palestinian population and to reinforce the rule of law. € 12.43 million have been allocated for the mission’s activities between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

The Council also extended the mandate of EUBAM Rafah until 30 June 2020. The mission is mandated to provide a third party presence at the Rafah crossing point in the Gaza Strip to contribute to building confidence between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including enhancing Palestinian capacities on all aspects of border management related to the Rafah crossing point. The mission maintains its readiness to redeploy to the Rafah crossing point once the political and security situation allows. In the meantime, EUBAM Rafah will continue providing technical assistance to the Palestinian general administration for borders and crossings (GABC) in integrated border management. The mission’s budget for the period between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020 amounts to € 2.15 million.

Russian diplomats celebrate National Day in Jerusalem

According to Russian diplomatic sources, the Embassy of Russian Federation in Israel is hosting its annual National Day (12 June) reception in Jerusalem, in a gesture of recognition of West Jerusalem as capital of State of Israel not only de jure in statements, but also de facto.

Russia’s incoming Ambassador H.E. Anatoly Viktorov has invited guests to the reception (reportedly celebrated on 14th of June) at Sergei’s Courtyard.

Russian compound church

Sergei’s Courtyard constructed in 1889, but sometimes still referred to as New Courtyard, a part of a historic complex in the Jerusalem neighborhood  known as the Russian Compound (pictured), which Israeli authorities handed to Russia a decade ago in a goodwill gesture.

Russian compound Jerusalem

At present Russia remains committed to the decisions of the United Nations on the status of Jerusalem. In April 2017, Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) issued a statement on the “urgent need” for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, underlining its firm commitment to the decisions of the United Nations on the principles of settlement, including the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state.

However “at the same time, we consider it necessary to declare that in this context we consider West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel” – the statement of Russian MFA concluded.

On December 6, Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, reaffirmed Russia‘s position to support the immediate resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on “all controversial issues, including the status of Jerusalem.”

In June 2017, the Israeli authorities suggested to Russian government to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but in response the diplomats said that Russia has no intention to do so until Israel and Palestine have settled their bilateral relations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EU calls Hamas for non-violent expression

“Dozens of Palestinians, including children, have been killed and hundreds injured from Israeli fire today, during ongoing mass protests near the Gaza fence. We expect all to act with utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life. Israel must respect the right to peaceful protest and the principle of proportionality in the use of force. Hamas and those leading the demonstrations in Gaza must ensure that they remain strictly non-violent and must not exploit them for other means” – the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said in a statement, addressing the eruption of violence in Gaza, related to the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

“During these days, both Israelis and Palestinians are commemorating defining moments for their nations. Each side in this conflict has legitimate claims and aspirations which need to be mutually acknowledged”

“Jerusalem is a holy city for Jews, Muslims and Christians. The ties of the Jewish people to Jerusalem are irrefutable, and must not be denied. And the same is true for the ties of the Palestinian people to the city”

“Any further escalation of an already extremely tense and complex situation would cause again further unspeakable sufferings to both peoples, and will make the perspective of peace and security even more remote. In this moment, wisdom and courage would be needed to go back to negotiations for a political solution, for the sake both of the Israeli and the Palestinian people, and the entire region. Only a two state solution will realistically allow both sides to fulfil their aspirations, put an end to the conflict, and achieve the just and lasting peace that Israelis and Palestinians long for and deserve”

“The EU remains firmly committed to continue working with both parties and with its partners in the international community towards a resumption of meaningful negotiations aimed at a two-state solution, based on the 4 june 1967 lines and with Jerusalem as capital of both”

“The European Union has a clear, consolidated position on Jerusalem, which was reaffirmed in numerous Foreign Affairs Council conclusions. The EU will continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem embodied in, inter alia, UN Security Council Resolution 478, including on the location of diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved” – the statement concludes.

 

“Unacceptable” Abbas remarks on Holocaust

“The speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered on 30 April contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy. Such rhetoric will only play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated”- says the text of the European Action Service Statement.

“The Holocaust and World War Two have defined Europe’s modern history like no other event. Holocaust education remains central to building up resilience against all forms of hatred in our societies. Antisemitism is not only a threat for Jews but a fundamental menace to our open and liberal societies. The European Union remains committed to combat any form of anti-Semitism and any attempt to condone, justify or grossly trivialise the Holocaust.”

Middle East in focus of EU foreign ministers

The Foreign Affairs Council on 27 of February will start with a discussion on current affairs, allowing ministers to review pressing issues on the international agenda.

Republic of Moldova

Foreign ministers will exchange of views on the Republic of Moldova. They will focus among others on the implementation of the deep and comprehensive free trade area (DCFTA), the EU’s engagement with the country and future perspectives ahead of the next parliamentary elections.

They may also discuss the country’s role in the Eastern Partnership and engagement in the field of security. The Council will adopt conclusions on the Republic of Moldova after the debate.

Venezuela

Foreign ministers will discuss the situation in Venezuela which continues to be challenging. The Council will have a discussion on the latest developments and ahead of Presidential elections scheduled for 22 April.

Middle East peace process

The Council will discuss the Middle East peace process. Foreign ministers will continue exploring ways to achieve a two-state solution. They may also follow on up on the extraordinary session of the international donor group for Palestine, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting held on 31 January.

The discussion will also prepare the lunch with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States (LAS), Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and foreign ministers members of the LAS ministerial delegation on Jerusalem chaired by Jordan (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian Authority). They will discuss ways to revive the Middle East peace process.

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