EU: Netanyahu and Abbas must show 'leadership'

EU foreign policy chief says it's up to Israeli and Palestinian leadership 'to get out of the current impasse.'

Cynthia Blank ,

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini addressed the security situation in Israel on Wednesday during a European Parliament plenary session. 

Blaming the current wave of violence on the "stalemate in the peace process," Mogherini called on both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to "show leadership." 

"The new wave of violence and terror is affecting innocents Israelis and Palestinians alike. There can be no excuse for terror: the incitement and the violence must end. The response of security forces needs to be proportionate and consistent regardless of who is the perpetrator."

"But it is mostly up to the political leaders on the two sides to get out of the current impasse and to show leadership," she argued, acknowledging the difficulty of doing so while stressing the need.  

"Both leaderships have responsibility to contain the situation of violence and to promote calm," Mogherini added, asserting that it was not just in the interests of the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, but also Netanyahu and Abbas' responsibility to the region and the rest of the world.

According to Mogherini, in recent meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas, both agreed to "work together in partnership to end the current unrest," which she added would need "to be tested for real."

Mogherini then emphasized the importance of understanding the "underlying causes of tensions – the frustrations, the sense of insecurity, the lack of hope, the lack of political horizon" in de-escalating the crisis. 

"Without a political horizon, any de-escalation that we might even get, will only last for a limited time and we will go back again, and again, and again to the cycle of violence."

She argued the EU's first priority "must be to build the conditions for final status talks based on mutual steps. For this to happen, we need significant policy shifts on the ground, and we need these policy shifts to happen in line with past agreements that are there and need to start being implemented." 

Calling the need for Israel-PA negotiations "more urgent than ever," Mogherini warned that "the conditions around Israel and Palestine are today much, much more dangerous than they used to be decades ago" and continued tensions could prove "explosive."

"Recent events should serve as a warning. If anyone still believes that we can just manage the current crisis, contain it a little bit and wait for the next one to come, they are wrong," she continued. 

"So, now it's decision time. Israeli and Palestinian leaders will have to take courageous choices, difficult ones. But this is the only path they have towards peace. They can either move forward, or watch chaos prevail in their own societies." 

To help with this, Mogherini added, she had asked Netanyahu and Abbas to receive envoys from the Middle East Quarter in the coming days "to start working together on concrete steps that can be immediately taken on the ground."

"We have to help them start implementing issues on the ground that can deliver for the people, for the ordinary people that today are seeing their children dying on both sides, with different numbers, but on both sides, to start having a future in their lands."