A European Union delegation is set to arrive in Israel on Monday for discussions about the recently announced EU ban on economic cooperation with Israeli entities located over the Green Line, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The visit comes right after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asked EU foreign ministers who met in Vilnius, Lithuania, late last week to hold off on the issue in order to give renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks time to produce results.
At a briefing with reporters before the meeting, a senior state department official said, “The secretary’s message to the EU foreign ministers will be very clear, that now that the parties are in negotiations and both leaders took difficult and … politically painful decisions in order to get into these direct negotiations, that it’s important for those parties who have an interest in a successful outcome that they be supportive of this effort and that they find a way to embrace the negotiators and encourage them to move forward, rather than, as it were metaphorically, bang them over the head.”
When asked about Kerry’s request at a press conference after the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said, “I want to reiterate the issue of the guidelines, that this is putting down on paper what is currently the EU’s position.”
She added, “We will be sending a team to Israel on Monday … to make sure that in the implementation, we are doing so sensitively.
On the other hand, PLO executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi voiced criticism of Kerry’s attempt to forestall the EU decision, which she described as “a very positive step” that “reinforces the 1967 border…”
“Reports of U.S. lobbying the EU on behalf of Israel are extremely discouraging and cast serious doubts on the U.S. mediation role,” Ashrawi added.