|Solana in the Middle East to gauge progress|
|Written by Chris Perver|
|Sunday, 02 September 2007 10:02|
Javier Solana, the High Representative for the European Common, Foreign and Security Policy, is due to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the next few days, as EU leaders prepare for the upcoming peace conference in November. Solana will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah today, and with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem on Monday. The future EU Foreign Minister stated that he is optimistic about progress being made, but stated that both sides need to make full use of this opportunity for peace.
Quote: "Solana's visit comes at the beginning of the political season in the EU and several days before the scheduled meeting of EU foreign ministers in Portugal. The ministers are expected to discuss, among other issues, the Middle East and particularly the Israeli-Palestinian arena. Solana will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Speaker of the Knesset Dalia Itzik, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and with Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assigns great importance to Solana's visit, against the backdrop of the EU's increased involvement in the region and the anticipated upgrade in bilateral relations between Israel and the EU.
During Javier Solana's discussions with President Abbas, an aide to Abbas stated that there needs to be a framework agreement worked out between Israel and the Palestinians, with a clear timeline for implementation. Abbas believes an international conference will be a failure without concrete progress being made on the key issues, such as the division of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.
Quote: "Abbas has been pressing a reluctant Israel to discuss in depth matters at the core of any future agreement on Palestinian statehood - the shape of final borders and the fate of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. "We need a framework agreement with a timeline for implementation," a senior Abbas aide said, describing the Palestinian leader's position. At a news conference with Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Abbas said: "We do not want a meeting that results in merely a statement. We do not want a meeting that will end up a failure for everybody."
Meanwhile, King Abdullah II of Jordan has called for greater EU involvement in the Middle East peace process, during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi...
Quote: ""European nations with Italy in the forefront must play a more active role to back Arab and international efforts to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table," Abdullah was quoted as saying.
The EU is already playing a major role in the Middle East peace process. The European Union has allocated more aid for the Palestinian Authority this year than any year previous, a staggering 700 million Euros, despite the international boycott of Hamas. The EU is currently training the Palestinian police force (EUPOL COPPS) and acts as a third party in monitoring the Rafah border (EUBAM). The EU recently launched its biggest peace keeping force in its history, sending some 12,000 soldiers to south Lebanon to monitor to the cease fire between Israel and Hizbullah. Both Israeli and EU politicians are pushing for Europe to expand that role to cover peace keeping in Gaza. The Bible tells us that the Antichrist, who will be of the people that destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD, will strengthen an agreement reached by Israel and the surrounding nations for a seven year period. It is clear to see that, as Scripture predicts, it will fall to the EU to be the guarantor of peace and security in the region.