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December 26, 2012 3:03 pm

Report: Israel Fears EU Will Impose Agreement in Coming Year

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Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Moshe Milner/GPO/FLASH90.

An internal memo circulated by Israel’s Foreign Ministry expresses concern that the European Union will impose an agreement on the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs in the upcoming year, Haaretz reports.

The contents of the memo were compiled after last month’s vote at the UN to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status.

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the report predicts that in 2013 Israel will face heavy pressure from the European Union to show progress on the Palestinian issue. The report states that the EU has become disenchanted with the diplomatic process in its traditional format – direct talks between the two sides – because they doubt its ability to lead to a solution.

A senior European diplomat was quoted as saying “The EU thinks there needs to be a peace process in a new format to lead to progress in 2013. We think international parameters should be formulated for the end of the conflict. We will no longer agree that the two sides should sit alone in a room and we should say yes to everything they do.”

“European attempts to strengthen the Palestinians’ hold over the areas of their future state by continuing to challenge Israeli control on the ground in Areas B and C will continue,” the report states.

The ministry report also notes that the European Union’s 27 member states cannot reach a consensus on how to bring the parties back to the table. The debate revolves around how much to pressure Israel and whether to impose sanctions.

“At the moment, it seems that those in the EU who support restraint toward Israel have the upper hand,” the report says. “But it must be remembered that the motives for this are not necessarily an understanding of Israel’s political exigencies … European restraint toward Israel is conditioned on Israel contributing to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

The memo does contain some positive details. For example, for the first time, the EU foreign ministers adopted Israel’s position that an end to mutual claims is an essential part of any peace agreement. The foreign ministers’ statements against terror¬† and the report’s insistence that weapons smuggling to Gaza end were meant to express strong support for Israel’s security needs.

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