The European Union's new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini warned Friday of a new wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence if there is no progress towards peace talks.
Speaking in Jerusalem on her first visit to the region since taking up the EU's top diplomatic post, Mogherini said there was a real "urgency" to pick up and advance the moribund peace process.
Talking with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Mogherini said "never as now the situation has been more dangerous in this area, but this could also bring some opportunities in terms of regional framework. ...It would be good if we all managed to lower tensions, verbal and on the ground. ...It is also worrying that after the ceasefire was reached in Cairo in August, we are still having difficulties in advancing with the direct talks."
"The risk is that if we do not move forward on the political track, we will go back...again to violence," she told reporters at a joint news conference with her Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu). "That's why I see the urgency in moving forward."
It is unclear why Mogherini believes that the peace process will help rather than exacerbate violence in the capital, as an Israel Security Agency (ISA) study revealed last year that terror only escalated since the latest round of peace talks began in 2013.
Moreover, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat revealed last week that crime in Jerusalem had skyrocketed over the past several weeks, from 200 incidents per month to over 5,000, meaning there is less of a threat of a "return" to violence than a continuation of violence.
Despite this, Mogherini also flagged Israel's building homes for Jewish residents of the capital city of Jerusalem as an "obstacle" to a negotiated peace.
"New settlements are an obstacle as we see (it) but we also see that there might be a political will...to resume the talks and specially (to) make sure that these talks bring to results," she said.
Mogherini is due to visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramallah on a three-day trip beginning Friday meant to be "a signal of the priority given to the region by the EU," a spokesperson said earlier this week. Mogherini has also said that she would be "pleased" to see a "Palestinian state" within five years, before the end of her term.
Despite this, it has denied threatening Israel - or promoting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement - on multiple occasions.