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EU Foreign Policy chief on Israel-Palestine peace negotiations: 'nothing will make me happier'

ABOVE: Josep Borell at the EU HQ in Brussels, 2022. Courtesy Getty Images

STRASBOURG, Thursday March 16, 2023 (CC) - Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice President of the European Commission for a Stronger Europe in the World is keen on the Israelis and the Palestinians negotiating heads-up to end their ongoing struggle.

"Nothing would make me happier," Borrell said while speaking to the European Parliament earlier this week.

But Israel officials are not keen on him visiting the Holy Land any time soon.

The EU's Foreign Policy chief Borrell upset some of Israel's new government officials with remarks made in his opinion piece published online last week at "Project Syndicate".

"Being honest means acknowledging that extremism is rising on both sides. Indiscriminate attacks and violence are taking many Israeli lives. Violence on the part of Israeli settlers in the West Bank is increasingly threatening Palestinian lives and livelihoods – almost always with impunity," Borrell wrote.

Those are some of the remarks that Israeli officials believe equated the Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks with radical Palestinians killed by the Israeli Defense Force.

Israel's new Foreign Minister Eli Cohen condemned Borrell during their conversation on Tuesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said.

“There is no room for comparison or balancing between the victims of terrorism on the Israeli side and the Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority,” Cohen declared.

Further, an Israeli official reportedly said Wednesday that while there were no official plans or requests for Borrell to visit, the Israeli government had made it clear to him that he is not welcome in the Holy Land at the current time.

“He’s not banned,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter on the record. “We don’t think it’s a good time to come.”

Back in January, Borrell expressed his desire for EU-Israel talks to continue, and invited Cohen to visit Brussels.

In their phone call, Cohen and Borrell agreed to meet “at the earliest possible opportunity… possibly at the Munich Security Conference in February,” Borrell’s spokesperson said.

There is such a thing as an EU-Israel Association Council, a proposed annual meeting designed to discuss their mutual concerns and matters.

Yet EU-Israel talks within this framework had not happened since 2012 before the two sides met in October 2022.

The decade-long hiatus was a result of the EU 's opposition to more Israeli settlements being built in Judea and Samaria, aka the West Bank.

Borrell’s writings in the article aforementioned further lamented that “neither the Israeli side nor the Palestinian side is ready for peace.”

He urged Palestinians “to renounce terrorism and overcome their political divisions.” He also urged Israel to stop building settlements on occupied land claimed by the Palestinians, to halt settler violence and to offer to negotiate an independent Palestinian state."

On the heels of his recent meeting with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister and the Arab League Secretary-General regarding the Israel-Palestine matter, this is what he told his assembled European Parliament on Tuesday:

“We must help to create the conditions where it would be advantageous for Israelis and Palestinians to go back to the negotiation table and talk. And nothing will make me happier [than] to be able to contribute, from the [side of] European Union, to prepare this process."




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