Big effort needed to resolve Israeli-Palestinian impasse, warns EU

 

Achieving a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may become “factually impossible” unless a major negotiating effort is made in 2013, a senior EU diplomat has said.

“We do need a new, structured negotiating approach for the year 2013. The feeling of many is that the moment when the two-state solution becomes factually impossible is approaching,” said EU special representative for the Middle East peace process Andreas Reinicke on a visit to Dublin.

“That’s why we believe we have to make a big effort next year, 2013, to try really to resolve this position.”

Dr Reinicke said this was the unified consensus position of 27 foreign ministers. He was formerly with the German diplomatic service, but took up his EU post last February after the nomination of Catherine Ashton as high representative for foreign affairs.

He said his responsibility was to formulate and present European positions concerning conflicts Israel had with its neighbours.

“We are concerned that the two-state solution is becoming more in danger through the increased settlement activities and the increased financial difficulties for the Palestinian Authority. That’s why we urge now both parties to come back to the negotiating process because if that is not happening then we will go further down the slippery slope,” he said.

Asked how recent Palestinian success in securing special status at the United Nations had affected relations between the two sides, he replied: “For the moment it seems to be rather confrontational. But . . . a confrontation will not resolve the issue, neither for one side or the other.”

He said the best thing would be to return to the negotiating process without preconditions and explore what is possible.

Israeli elections are scheduled for January 22nd and Mr Reinicke said it would be difficult during the election campaign to establish new approaches. However, he added that this “doesn’t mean that we should not push as Europeans [for both sides to] please return to the negotiating table without preconditions”.

Dr Reinicke’s visit included an informal meeting with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and an address to the Institute of International and European Affairs.