The European Union Foreign Ministers held separate talks today, January 22, with Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz, which will be followed by a meeting with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. The EU ministers will also meet their counterparts from Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. These meetings were described as an exchange of views. The EU minister made statements in support of a two-state solution and a cease-fire.
Ahead of the talks, as well as during the meeting, EU foreign-affairs chief Josep Borrel called for the need to establish a Palestinian state.
“What we want to do is to build a two-state solution. So let’s talk about it,” Borrell said. He told Israel that “peace and stability cannot be built only by military means. Which are the other solutions they have in mind? To make all the Palestinians leave? To kill them off?” Borrell said.
Borrel said he had presented EU ministers with a “comprehensive approach” towards trying to find a lasting peace.
The ministers expressed discomfort with pronouncement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to discuss the issue of a Palestinian state.
“The declarations of Benjamin Netanyahu are worrying. There will be a need for a Palestinian state with security guarantees for all,” French Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Sejourne told reporters in Brussels,
“Gaza is in a situation of extreme urgency. There is a risk of famine. There is a risk of epidemics. The violence must stop,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency. “We demand an immediate cease-fire, the release of the hostages, the respect of international law, (and) a return to the peace process, which must lead to the creation of two states living in peace side by side,” Lahbib said, describing a two-state solution as “the only way to establish peace in a durable way in the region.”
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz refused to respond when asked about the possibility of Palestinian statehood. Holding up pictures of Israeli hostages, Katz said he had come to seek support for Israel’s campaign to dismantle Hamas.
The EU minister also discussed an EU naval mission to the Red Sea, but no decision is expected until next month.