Saturday, November 8, 2014

New EU Foreign Affairs Chief Calls For Palestinian Statehood

The European Union's new foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, emphasized that the bloc backs Palestinian statehood and warned of rising tensions in Jerusalem during a visit to Gaza on Saturday.
“We need a Palestinian state -- that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union,” she said, adding that another war in Gaza cannot be afforded.
In remarks made ahead of her meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mogherini urged the reduction of tensions.

“It would be good if we all managed to lower tensions, verbal and on the ground. What is happening and what has happened here in Jerusalem in the last week is extremely worrying,”
 she said Friday.
Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister who took up her post as the EU's foreign and security policy chief with the appointment of a new European Commission on Nov. 1, has previously made similar calls. On Tuesday, she said: “I would be happy if by the end of my term, a Palestinian state existed.” 
Last month, MPs in the British House of Commons voted by a large majority (274 to 12) to recommend that the UK recognizes Palestine as a state alongside Israel. Tel Aviv condemned the British MPs' vote, which does not have the force of law, but is of a consultative character.

Last week, Sweden officially recognized the occupied state of Palestine, becoming the first Western European state to do so. 

The occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been seeking full statehood and independence from Israel for decades now, with thousands of people having perished in one of the most prolonged and bitter confrontations in modern history. 

The Palestinians have lobbied for full recognition as a sovereign state from the UN and the international community. Palestine has already been granted non-member, observer-state status in the UN and it continues to push for recognition while Israel continues to proceed with plans to build thousands of new settler homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

The European Union’s new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying the world “cannot afford” another war in Gaza.

“We need a Palestinian state — that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union,” Mogherini said during her first visit to Gaza.

Mogherini’s visit came against a backdrop of surging Israeli-Palestinian tensions in East Jerusalem where there have been near-daily clashes in flashpoint neighborhoods, and two terror attacks that killed four Israelis in two weeks.
She voiced hope that Gaza would avoid another major conflict.
“It is not only the people of Gaza that can’t afford having a fourth war, all the world cannot afford this,” she said.
“We cannot just sit and wait. If we sit and wait it will go on for another 40 years. We have to have action now,” said Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister who recently took over from Catherine Ashton as the top EU diplomat.

According to the report, these countries include some of the US’s closest allies. The report did not specify which, however.
“We’re not going to wait forever,” a senior European official said, according to the report. “Other European countries are poised to follow Sweden.”
On Friday, Mogherini said there was a real “urgency” to pick up and advance the moribund peace process.
The Palestinians, for their part, are set to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council later this month calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, a senior official said on Tuesday.
The text, which the Palestinians have been preparing for weeks, is expected to be vetoed by permanent member the United States.
But officials in Ramallah have said that will not deter them after round upon round of failed peace talks with Israel.
It is unclear how European states will vote.

Western policies toward Russia championed by Washington have led to the current crisis, and if the confrontation continues, Europe will be weakened and become irrelevant, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warns.
Speaking to a forum in Berlin amid the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he called on western leaders to de-escalate tensions and meet Russia halfway to mend the current rift.

After the Cold War ended, the leaders of the western world were intoxicated with euphoria of triumph, and they adopted anti-Russian policies that eventually led to the current crisis, Gorbachev said.
“Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and a lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world. And they refused to heed the word of caution from many of those present here,” he said. “The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’s will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one’s partners.”
Gorbachev gave a list of examples of those policies, including the expansion of NATO and the development of an anti-ballistic missile system, military interventions in Yugoslavia and Iraq, the west-backed secession of Kosovo, the crisis in Syria and others. The Ukrainian crisis is a “blister turning into a bleeding, festering wound,” he said.

Europe is the one suffering most from the situation, Gorbachev said.
“Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for the spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict. The consequence inevitably is Europe’s weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining momentum. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant,” he said.
Ukraine may have set the scene for the current confrontation, but it can also become a focus for reconciliation between Russia and the West, according to Gorbachev. He called for the parties to join forces and help Ukraine overcome the consequences of the civil war it is currently going through.

Over the longer term, the system of European security must be reformed, because the enlargement of NATO and the current EU common defense policy have failed to produce positive results, Gorbachev said. This would likely require an overhaul of the OSCE, which in its current format is not up to the task, he said, while proposals to that effect have been voiced by policymakers both in the EU and in Russia, but they had been “filed away in the archives.”

Iran has stepped up efforts to develop a process that could enrich uranium at a much quicker pace, thereby violating the interim nuclear agreement reached with world powers last year, according to the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS.

“Iran may have violated [the interim deal] by starting to feed [natural uranium gas] into one of its advanced centrifuges, namely the IR-5 centrifuge,” ISIS wrote in an analysis of the confidential IAEA report issued Friday to member states, according to Reuters. “Under the interim deal, this centrifuge should not have been fed with [gas] as reported in this safeguards report.”

The IR-5 is a new centrifuge that Iran has been seeking to develop to replace the old IR-1 model. Tehran possesses only one such machine so far.

Iran has also reportedly sped up its low-grade uranium enrichment over the past two months, growing its stockpile by 8% to 8.4 tons.

On Friday, the IAEA said that its attempts to probe allegations that Tehran worked on nuclear weapons were deadlocked — a finding that all but rules out hopes of full nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran by the November 24 target date.
Iran and the six world powers are set to meet in Vienna on November 18 to resume negotiations.

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