EU not to make major upgrade with Israel

A leading communist EU lawmaker sent an open letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday denouncing secret negotiations aimed at giving Israel "the rights of a quasi-member of the European Union".

EU not to make major upgrade with Israel
The European Union is unlikely to agree to any wide-ranging upgrade of relations with Israel at a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday, EU diplomats said on Wednesday.

The Jewish state had sought a joint declaration at the Luxembourg talks on boosting ties and giving Israel greater access to EU markets, agencies and spending programmes.

However, an EU diplomat said: "That is not going to happen. One reason is that there wasn't much appetite at this point among member states, given the uncertainty of the situation on the ground in Israel and its immediate neighbourhood.

"Also ... there simply wasn't enough time to agree among the 27 (EU countries)."

The Israelis sent a memorandum to the EU last year suggesting a range of possible upgrades in relations, including regular summits of EU and Israeli leaders, and meetings with EU sectoral ministers. These would be in addition to the single annual session at foreign minister level.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wrote to Brussels last month urging the EU not to upgrade ties with Israel, which he said Israel flagrant disregards of Palestinian rights by continuing to build Jewish settlements.

Diplomats said Egypt had also lobbied the EU against boosting ties with the Jewish state at a time when there was scant progress in the Middle East peace process.

Another EU diplomat said the 27-nation union was trying to find the right balance.

"What we are trying to do is ... to reinforce the association with Israel, but we have to take into account all the parameters of the situation," the second diplomat said.

A leading communist EU lawmaker sent an open letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday denouncing secret negotiations aimed at giving Israel "the rights of a quasi-member of the European Union".

Francis Wurtz, floor leader of the United European Left political group, said the EU should be focusing on unblocking the peace process with the Palestinians, not rewarding Israel with a special status.

"Given the international context in which this matter is being examined, it seems totally inconceivable that the Israeli request should be given a favourable response," he wrote.

Asked about Wurtz's letter, an EU official said nothing specific would be decided at Monday's EU-Israel meeting in Luxembourg.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Haziran 2008, 08:31
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