STRASBOURG—‘’The two-state solution remains the best and the only realistic chance for peace between Israel and Palestine, and also for security in the Holy Places,’’ said EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini as she addressed on Thursday a ‘’debate on the situation in Israel and Palestine, including the settlements’’ in the European Parliament’s pleanery session in Strasbourg. .
She added that ‘’nobody has presented a credible alternative to two States so far.’’
Many have argued against but nobody has expressed any clear view that can substitute that objective realistically. And any plan that is not firmly anchored in international law and, let me add, also in the profound aspirations and interests of the people – not only of Palestine and Israel but also of the region – would ultimately fail.
‘’Our support to the two States is a matter of international law, a matter of justice and democracy and also a matter of realism,’’ Mogherini, who is ending her 5-year term as head of EU’s foreign affairs.
She acknowledged that the objective of a two-state solution ‘’was fading away’’ even though ‘’in these years we have worked full-time to avoid the dissolution of the two-state perspective.’’
Mogherini also raised the issue of settlements by saying: ‘’We have always believed that border changes can only be decided through direct negotiations between the parties, based on the pre-1967 borders.’’
She added: ‘’Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law; they constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.’’
‘’In addition, settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States,’’ Mogherini continued, adding that ‘’this has remained and remains a strong united European Union position.’’
She also declared that the EU position regarding the security of the State of Israel ‘’is is clear and unchanged.’’
‘’Firing rockets on Israel’s civilian population is simply unacceptable,’’ she said. ‘’I am grateful to Egypt for their diplomatic efforts which helped to stop the recent escalation. I will repeat once again: Israel and Israelis have the right to security. But we are also convinced that security will only be sustainable and real if it is built on peace and on the two-state solution,’’ she added.
She said that the crisis in Gaza ‘’is inherently political in nature and requires a political solution.’’ “The closure must end and crossings must fully be opened.’’
During the debate, representatives of the main political groups took the floor. Spanish MEP Antonio Lopez-Isturiz, for the European People’s Party, EPP, the largest group, said that ‘’Israel is a strategic partner for Europe and we have shared values. Israel has security concerns, look at the number of rockets coming in from Gaza.’’
Lopez-Ituriz, who chairs the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel, stressed the need to ensure dialogue and noted that labeling of goods from settlements ‘’is the wrong way to do things.’’ ‘’We need to work together with Israelis and Palestinians to develop the region. It is necessary to bring people together, to create more prosperity in the region to put an end to the conflict,’’ he concluded.
For the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Dutch MEP Kati Piri denounced US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that Israeli settlements are not illegal. ‘’This announcement clearly goes against the Geneva Conventions, UN Security Council Resolutions and EU Court of Justice.’’ ‘’It is yet another example of Trump’s administration obsessive support to Prime Minister Netanyahu,’’ she said. ‘
For the Renew Europe (Liberal) group, Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans noted that Israeli settlements are expanding. ‘’Israel is working towards fragmentation of Palestinian territories and is undermining the 2 state solution,’’ she said, adding: ‘’ ‘’We cannot accept that. Europe is for the rule of law and for that reason we must tackle the policies of Netanyahu and Trump. It is up to us in Europe to continue to fight for the 2-state solution.’’
Green Irish MEP Grace O’Sullivan declared that ‘’the Trump administration move to recognise the illegal settlements in the West Bank is the latest of the deeply destructive interventions from a government that seems determined to wreck any chance of peace and it is outside the norms of international law.’’
The ECR (Conservatives and Reformists) Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen said that while Pompeo’s statement was controversial, he has a point ‘’because Israel has a historical and legal right to these territories.’’
He addressed directly Mogherini by saying: ‘’Please stop giving indirect support to terrorists and their families via the Palestinian Authority. This is something that the Dutch are very angry about. Stop the payments to UNRWA also, it is perpetuating the problem. And have a harder position on Iran because it is extremely aggressive and questionable at best.’’
The successor of Federica Mogherini as ”High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security” is Spanish Josep Borrell, who is the outgoing Foreign Minister in his country and a former President of the European Parliament. He will also be Vice-President of the European Commission.
The European Parliament also approved the composition of the new 26-member European Commission led by German Ursula von der Leyen.