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IDF checkpoint (Archive photo)
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Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Photo: Gil Yohanan

EU urges Israelis to ease Palestinian movement

Senior European official Benita Ferrero-Waldner says she understands Israel's security needs, but Jewish state should look to gradually lift restrictions, hand security responsibility in West Bank to Palestinians with international monitoring

A senior European official urged Israel on Friday to ease freedom of movement and trade for Palestinians in the West Bank, saying confidence in new peace efforts depended on such improvements.

 

She also sought a role for the European Union in monitoring compliance by Israel and the Palestinians with security and other commitments on the ground as talks proceed.

 

European External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters she was cautiously optimistic that the US-sponsored peace process launched at Annapolis in the United States last year could achieve success.

 

But she said it required support from the Palestinian public which would come if people saw their daily lives improve.

 

"I would like to note how important it is that facts now occur. We have launched the process, the Paris conference came up with resources, but on the ground ... Things must happen so that people begin to believe in the process.

 

"In the economic area, that means loosening access limits, making exports possible, allowing freedom of movement, and stopping the settlement
policy," Ferrero-Waldner said, speaking on the sidelines of a conference of the Bertelsmann Foundation think-tank.

 

'We have credit with the Palestinians'

The EU has agreed to launch a new financial aid program for the Palestinians, known as PEGASE, to promote economic development and help build the institutions of a future Palestinian state, but for that to be effective "hope must be given a chance", she said.

 

She said she understood Israel's security needs, but it should look to gradually lift restrictions and hand security responsibility to the Palestinians with international monitoring.

 

"It would be good if we Europeans could have a monitoring role, together with the Americans ... Because we have credit with the Palestinians just as the Americans have with Israel. Why can't we be there alongside them?" she asked.

 

Israel has so far resisted a role for the EU in monitoring security and settlement activity in the West Bank, although it did accept a European presence at the Rafah crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and in training Palestinian police.

 

Israeli officials sometimes accuse the Europeans of partiality and say they are unwilling to intervene if they see security violations by Palestinians.

 


פרסום ראשון: 01.18.08, 17:51
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