EU to offer ‘unprecedented package’ to induce peace deal

The President of the European Council has said the European Union will offer an "unprecedented package" to induce Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach a two-state solution, in a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Brussels.

The European Council is essentially the policy-making body of the EU.

In his first official visit to EU institutions as president, Rivlin said Israeli-EU relations can and should remain strong independently of the conflict with the Palestinians.

"Promoting peace in the Middle East is a vital interest of Israel. At the same time, I believe that our special bi-lateral relations can grow and develop in an independent way," Rivlin told President Donald Tusk, calling him "a true friend of Israel."

"I see it as a sign of the great importance of the relations between the State of Israel and the European Union," Rivlin added. "The European Union is Israel's largest partner in all areas: trade, science, environment and culture. As a leading force in science and innovation, Israel is proud to share its technology, research and development with Europe."

Apart from shared interests, Israel and Europe "share the most basic values of democracy, freedom of speech, liberalism, and human dignity," he added. "These values are a strong base to increase cooperation, in more areas."

In response, Tusk emphasized the growing security and defense ties between Israel and EU states, in the face of a mutual threat from Islamic terrorism.

"I expressed again my condolences for the victims of the recent attack in Tel Aviv, and I welcomed Israel’s offer to deepen our cooperation on counter-terrorism," he declared. "Terrorism can only be defeated if we face it together."

But he went on to reaffirm the EU's support for a French-led initiative to impose a "peace deal" between Israel and the PA.

"A lasting peace in the region has been made a top priority for the European community, we continue to work with both sides and to coordinate with the partners in the Middle East in order to support the ‘two state solution’," he said. 

"The European Union is ready back up a peace deal with an unprecedented package of cooperation and support to both sides," Tusk added, while indicating Brussels would also continue funding radical anti-Israel NGOs.

"The European Union will continue to provide assistance to Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to enable them to meet their basic humanitarian and development needs," he stated.

Rivlin and Tusk also discussed the situation in Syria and Lebanon, and global spread of the Islamic State terrorist group.


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