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Gaza crossing points: the principle of the accepted European offer

Credit: European Commission

The visit (the third of its kind) made by the High Representative of the EU to Israel and Palestine, Wednesday and Thursday, was not in vain. As Cathy Ashton, the High Representative of the EU, told Brussels2 in a corridor in Budapest, before rushing into a meeting, “The European offer was accepted. It is not a question of putting teams of European customs officers at crossing points. No. It is a set of measures (a package), intended to support the opening of crossing points to Gaza, to provide them with the necessary infrastructure and equipment, as well as to ensure the training of border guards ( of the Palestinian Authority).”

In practice, this new development of the border mission “still needs to be clarified“, explains those around the High Representative. A discussion will now take place with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to materialize this action. But the objective is to revitalize the economic fabric in Gaza. “We need to allow children to go to school and people to rebuild their homes and be able to live their lives,” explains the High Representative. This effort will be accompanied by a European economic effort, but not only that. Japan, thus, should provide assistance in “coordination with the EU“, in the words of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, putting $8,5 million on the table to revitalize the fabric of SMEs.

But on the side of the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, we remain as reluctant as ever, at least publicly, seeking to link the opening to Gaza to European cooperation in the fight against arms smuggling: “I can assure you that as soon as the smuggling of weapons into Gaza ends, so will the siege.” he explained shortly after his meeting with the EU’s chief diplomat.

Quartet meeting and donor conferences

Another achievement, a series of international meetings. First of all, the principle of a meeting of the Quartet, which has not met since September, was confirmed. The principle was debated at the UN in December. This meeting should be held “as fast as possible” in Europe: in all likelihood, in Davos or Munich, at the beginning of February; most of the political actors being present in particular at this last meeting devoted to “security”.

The objective is "to help find a solution to the current impasse” explains the High Representative in a press release. If the Russians had been asking for such a meeting for a long time, the Americans were not very keen. Because inevitably, such a meeting will point out the failure of the American initiative and the absence of a relief plan. “The EU has the will and commitment to contribute to a negotiated solution and agreements to end the conflict” explained Cathy Ashton.

The EU also wants “continue to support Palestinian state building efforts“. Another meeting, in February, was the donor conference in Paris, also in February. It will be followed in April by a meeting of the ad hoc liaison committee on the coordination of assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC), in Brussels.

New condemnation of colonization

The Israeli government does not intend to let its agenda be dictated by the international community. And the colonization policy continues with the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel. Demolition strongly condemned by the USA and the EU. Cathy Ashton thus published a press release Sunday evening condemning “strongly the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel and the planned construction of a new illegal housing estate”. “I repeat that these constructions are illegal under international law – explained Cathy Ashton. “It undermines trust between the parties and constitutes an obstacle to peace. Furthermore, we recall that East Jerusalem is part of the occupied Palestinian territory; EU does not recognize annexation by Israel. "

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).