EU's Borrell says Israel cannot build peace 'only by military means'

AFP , Monday 22 Jan 2024

The EU's foreign policy chief on Monday insisted on a two-state solution as he told Israel it couldn't build peace "only by military means" ahead of talks with Israeli and Palestinian top diplomats.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks as he arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. AP


The bloc's 27 foreign ministers are set to hold separate meetings with their counterparts from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and key Arab states in Brussels.

Borrell repeated the condemnation from the United Nations of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "unacceptable" rejection of calls for a Palestinian state after the Israeli war on Gaza.

"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 off them?" Borrell said.

The Palestinian death toll from Israel's assault on Gaza has surpassed 25,000, according to the Palestinian health ministry, and has plunged the Middle East into fresh turmoil and sparked fears of a broader conflict.

But while the bloodshed appears to have driven a long-term solution further out of sight, EU officials insist now is the time to talk about finally resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The EU's top diplomat said he had presented ministers from the bloc with a "comprehensive approach" towards trying to find a lasting peace.

The EU has struggled for a united stance on the Israeli war in Gaza as staunch backers of Israel such as Germany have rejected demands for an immediate ceasefire made by Spain and Ireland.

EU officials have sketched out broad conditions for "the day after" the Israeli war ends in Gaza, calling for no long-term Israeli occupation, an end to Hamas's rule and a role for the Palestinian Authority in running the territory.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected conditions presented by Hamas to end the war and release hostages and has refused to recognize a path to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over all the territory west of the Jordan [River],” he said in a video message issued to the Israeli public on Sunday, while stressing that a Palestinian state that would represent an existential threat to Israel.

A statement from his office issued on Saturday following talks with US President Joe Biden echoed his statements:“In his conversation with President Biden, prime minister Netanyahu reiterated his policy that, after Hamas is destroyed, Israel must retain security control over Gaza to ensure that Gaza will no longer pose a threat to Israel, a requirement that contradicts the demand for Palestinian sovereignty”

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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