December 14, 2013
The European Union is expected to announce on Monday that it will offer an unprecedented assistance package to Israel and the Palestinians, if the two parties sign a final-status agreement.
The organization also promised to upgrade relations with both parties to the highest level possible for nonmember nations in the event of a peace treaty.
A senior European diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, said a draft of the policy decision was approved yesterday at a meeting of the EU’s Political and Security Committee in Brussels. Ambassadors to the EU from the organization’s 28 member states attended the meeting.
The draft resolution, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, details the economic, political and military aid the EU hopes will encourage Israel and the Palestinians to agree to the painful compromises that a peace agreement will inevitably entail.
The senior EU diplomat said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is on board with the move, which is being shepherded by the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, France, Spain and Italy. Their colleagues in the EU’s 25 other member states are scheduled to vote on the proposal on Monday. It is expected to pass, without significant changes.
The draft resolution stipulates that after a peace agreement is reached, the status of both Israel and the future Palestinian state vis-a-vis the EU will be raised to “Special Privileged Partnership.” A similar offer was made to Turkey by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy as an alternative to Ankara’s joining the EU as a full member.
The proposed EU assistance package to Israel and the future Palestinian state will include the following incentives:
1. Increased access to the EU market.
2. Closer cultural and scientific ties to the EU.
3. Facilitation of trade and investment.
4. Promotion of business-to-business relations.
5. Enhanced political dialogue with both states.
6. Enhanced security cooperation with both states.
The value of the European package of incentives to Israel is genuinely priceless. In addition to its monetary worth, which has been estimated in the billions of euros, the deal would vastly improve Israel’s international standing, rescuing Jerusalem from the international isolation from which it is suffering.
The package will also provide international guarantees on such crucial security issues as Iran, the war against terror, intelligence cooperation and much more.
The draft of the proposed decision praises Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the commitment they are demonstrating to the peace negotiations and for the hard decisions they have made so far to renew the talks.
The proposed decision states, “It is a fundamental interest of the European Union to see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” In addition, the draft proposal says the EU “deplores” the construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and “warns against actions that undermine the negotiations.”