Palestine: EU Ministers back on the bandwagon.

 
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The European Union's Foreign Affairs Council, comprising the 28 foreign ministers of the EU's member countries, has adopted a resolution backing the French peace initiative and calling for an international peace conference to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks before the end of the year.

The ministers also agreed that the EU would put together a package of economic, security and diplomatic incentives over the next few months.

"The Council welcomes the Joint Communique on the Middle East peace initiative adopted at the Ministerial meeting in Paris on 3 June 2016," the ministers said in a statement issued at the conclusion of their meeting in Brussels.

"The Council reiterates its support for a just, sustainable and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and peace and stability in the region."

EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini told a press conference after the meeting that a report on the current deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would be published "in the next few days."

The report was compiled by the Middle East Quartet, comprising the EU, the United States, the United Nations and Russia.

The report is expected to be harshly critical of Israeli policy in the West Bank and to contain proposals for steps that need to be taken.

The Quartet's report and the French peace initiative are expected to be at the centre of an upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The meeting is scheduled for next week in Rome, according to an Israeli source.

One of the decisions taken by the European foreign ministers was to create a package of incentives for both Palestinians and Israelis prior to the international peace conference before the end of this year.

In that regard, they referred to the December 2013 proposal that the EU would upgrade Israel to "special and preferred partner" status.

In the context of its attempts to soften the declaration of the EU foreign ministers, Israel clarified that it was opposed to any connection between the December 2013 proposal and the French peace initiative.

Israel's position was not accepted by the EU ministers, with both issues being mentioned in the closing statement.

The ministers' decision asked the EU's foreign affairs apparatus and its representatives in Europe to immediately compile proposals for incentives, primarily economic, that could be given to Israel and the Palestinians to persuade them...

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