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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A diplomatic victory

For once, Israel did something right:
The European Union's 27 foreign ministers unanimously approved upgrading relations with Israel on Monday, despite vigorous efforts by the Palestinian Authority and Egypt to thwart the move.

The first expression of this decision will be a first-of-its-kind meeting between Israel's prime minister and all the leaders of the EU member states in Brussels this April.

Separately, the ministers decided to shelve a proposed action plan for the peace process in 2009, in response to Israeli pressure.

Throughout some 18 months of talks on the upgraded relationship, Egypt, the PA and other Arab countries lobbied against it. At the least, the Arabs argued, the upgrade should be conditioned on an Israeli settlement freeze.

As a result of the upgrade in relations, Israel's foreign minister will start meeting three times a year with all 27 EU foreign ministers. Other ministers will meet once a year with their European counterparts. Israel and the EU will also conduct a strategic dialogue on issues such as the peace process, the Iranian threat, counterterrorism and organized crime. In addition, the EU pledged to help Israel integrate into UN agencies and to include Israeli experts in EU peacekeeping forces.
If I had to guess, Livni probably managed to convince the Europeans by saying that it would prop up her chances of staying in power rather than a more right-wing government.

Anyway, PA prime minster Fayyad is not happy:
Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad expressed disappointment at the decision of the European Council of Ministers on upgrading relations between the European Union and Israel.

Fayyad said 'appreciate that this decision missed a very important opportunity by the European Union to positively influence Israel towards the rules of international law, as well as abide by the agreement and the spirit of partnership between the EU and Israel, in terms of respect for human rights'