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EU 'must be part' of US Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts Open in fullscreen

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EU 'must be part' of US Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts

The EU is the Palestinian Authority's largest aid donor, providing $724 million a year. [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 September, 2017

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The European Union must play an active role in the recent push by the US administration to revive the Middle East peace process, Ireland's foreign minister said on Friday.

The European Union must play an active role in the recent push by the US administration to revive the Middle East peace process, Ireland's foreign minister said on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump last month dispatched a delegation of top US envoys to the Middle East to discuss peace talks, which have been frozen since talks collapsed in 2014.

White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump aide Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell have met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as part of a regional tour, together with Egyptian, Saudi, Emirati, Qatari and Jordanian officials.

"Now is the time for the European Union ... to become more vocal," Coveney said, speaking to EU foreign ministers at a meeting on Middle East policy in Estonia on Thursday.

"We cannot simply wait for the US to take an initiative on their own, we should be supportive of them and helping them to shape it and design it in a way that is likely to have international community support," he said, according to Reuters.

The Irish foreign minister is leading the charge to involve the EU in ongoing peace efforts and met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month.

Coveney, who also held talks with US envoy Greenblatt, said the EU has a right to be heard and must seek to influence plans that are being formulated by the US delegation.

The EU is the Palestinian Authority's largest aid donor, providing around $724 million a year, and is a top trade partner with Israel.

Despite the US push to revive peace talks, Palestinian officials have so far expressed impatience with Kushner's slow start, saying they have received no clear vision from the US on the direction or substance of talks.

Trump's ambiguity around the two-state solution, a key position of the EU, has also complicated peace efforts, while top officials in Trump's administration are overtly pro-Israel.

"In the absence of the US being able to bring forward a new initiative, I think the EU will have to do that itself," Coveney added.

A range of issues currently divide the EU on Israel-Palestine, including Sweden's 2014 recognition of Palestine and Germany's strong support for Israel.

Late last month, Netanyahu vowed never to evacuate illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, just hours after meeting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who was on a three-day tour in Israel and Palestine to discuss peace efforts.

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