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EU threatens ‘consequences’ for Israel’s opposition to Palestinian state

A document making the rounds of European capitals called for "consequences" against Israel for opposing the two-state solution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, Dec. 10, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, Dec. 10, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

E.U. diplomats said on Monday in Brussels that a two-state solution is the only credible path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, after earlier threatening “consequences” if Israel continued to oppose the plan.

“We have to stop talking about the peace process and start talking about the two-state solution process,” Josep Borrell, the E.U.’s high representative for foreign affairs, told press at a meeting of the Council of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council.

A document circulating in European capitals ahead of Monday’s meeting called for E.U. members to “set out the consequences they envisage to attach to engagement or non-engagement” with their proposed plan—the two-state solution.

Europe is Israel’s biggest trading partner with total trade in goods in 2022 equaling €46.8 billion (~$50 billion). An unnamed senior E.U. official in Brussels suggested to the Financial Times that Europe could use this as leverage, saying, “There are incentives and disincentives.”

Foreign ministers at the meeting voiced frustration specifically with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom they see as the main obstacle to the two-state vision.

“The declarations of Benjamin Netanyahu are worrying. There will be a need for a Palestinian state with security guarantees for all,” French Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Sejourne told reporters in Brussels.

In a public address on Sunday, Netanyahu said that “Gaza must be demilitarized, under Israel’s full security control,” adding, “I will not compromise on full Israeli security control of all territory west of the Jordan River.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who attended the meeting, focused on the return of Israeli captives held by Hamas and European backing for Israel’s chief war aim of destroying the terror group.

Katz met with Borrell and other ministers. According to ABC News, he showed them two videos, one about building an artificial island off Gaza’s coast and the other a rail project linking the Middle East and India.

“I think the minister could have made better use of his time and focused on the deaths in Gaza,” said Borrell.

Borrell, known for his anti-Israel sentiment, criticized Jerusalem’s conduct of the war to the media on Sunday, saying Israel “is seeding the hate for generations.”

Earlier this month, he called for forcing Israel to accept a solution. “What we have learned over the last 30 years, and what we are learning now with the tragedy experienced in Gaza, is that the solution must be imposed from outside,” said Borrell. 

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