In Israel, Austrian Leader Says EU Should Use Economic Power in Mideast Peacemaking

YERUSHALAYIM -
peace, Israel, EU, Palestinians, Palestinian, Austria
Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference in Yerushalayim on Tuesday. (Reuters/Dan Balilty/Pool)

Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has urged the European Union to use its economic power to bring Israel and the Palestinians to the peace table, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

Kern told reporters just before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the EU’s status as the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority, and the biggest export market for Israel, affords it “good lever to influence the situation,” and that it should do so more than has been the case.

“The question is, are we really strategically playing that card — it doesn’t look so, honestly speaking, but that is an issue that we have to discuss internally in Brussels.”

On a more positive note, Kern noted that “Israel has more support in Europe than you perceive,” and that Europe’s immigration crisis has helped them to better understand Israel’s problems.

In an apparent reference to Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, Kern said that one of the lessons Europe can learn from Israel is that “some restrictions and limitations are needed” on movement. “The understanding of the ways [Israel] treats Palestinian migrations has greatly increased,” he said.

Kern, who participated Sunday evening at the Yad Vashem ceremony for Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, said that “we have come a really long way from World War II, the horrific Holocaust, the denial of our responsibility, to the day when we have remembered together what happened in the Holocaust period.”