EU and Israel at odds on how to lift Gaza siege
Israel has said that a new EU-sponsored "force" could see the re-opening of Gaza crossing points. But the union's Gaza plan falls short of hard security guarantees.
"If you want to bring about a lifting of the closure around Gaza you should take responsibility and establish a strong, real and effective force to prevent smuggling there ... I can promise you that the minute the smuggling of arms into Gaza stops, the closure will be lifted," Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a communique to press after meeting EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton in Jerusalem on Wednesday (5 January).
Wow. Its almost hard to believe that we are actually seeing this happen so soon.
"Close co-operation between Israel and the EU can end the smuggling and terror against Israel, removal of the siege and even the release of Gilad Shalit," the communique added, referring to the Israeli soldier being held by Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.
The Lieberman statement appears to be a potential breakthrough for EU efforts to end the Gaza siege, imposed by Israel after Hamas took power in the strip in 2007.
A contact in the Ashton delegation told this website on Thursday that it is "difficult" to see how the security force idea fits in with the EU's current offer, however. "We have offered a three-pronged approach: help with infrastructure, equipment and training of Palestinian officials on the border, to help revive Gaza's economy and make sure we meet Israeli security concerns," the EU source explained.
The Ashton delegation, which includes the European External Action Service's new Middle East chief, French EU official Hugues Mingarelli, is meeting with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank on Thursday.
Although this will go largely unnoticed by the media, and most people around the world for that matter - in my opinion this is HUGE news.
There has been much speculation about the EU moving troops into the region - and how such actions would be highly consistent with the confirmation of a peace covenant. This speculation grew over the last several months as we watched the EU form an infrastructure that could handle such duties.
But now, we are beyond the speculation part of this equation. Its actually happening now. The troops haven't been sent in yet, but the negotiations are taking place and it seems obvious now that it is rapidly becoming a reality, as Israel has accepted the idea conceptually, and now the tangible plans are moving forward.
Is it just me, or are the prophetic signs starting to move even faster now?
The speed at which the EU is moving towards the ability to "confirm" a covenant is breathtaking.
I would expect the next step to be as follows:
As the peace process begins again - watch for a proposal that these EU forces move into Israel in order to maintain borders and keep the peace.