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EU Envoy in Israel to Restart Mideast Peace Talks

05-19-2015

JERUSALEM, Israel -- European Union Middle East envoy Federica Mogherini arrived in Israel on a two-day visit Tuesday, ostensibly to jump start direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Mogherini, whose rhetoric sounds very much like her predecessor, Baroness Catherine Ashton whom she replaced last November, said Monday "the status quo is unacceptable."

"The European Union is ready and willing to play a major role in re-launching of this process on the basis of the two-state solution," she said.

But despite her deep convictions, she's likely to find it as challenging as former E.U. envoys.

Even U.S. President Barack Obama, who made resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a focus of his second term under Secretary of State John Kerry, recently acknowledged Israel's legitimate security concerns and even hinted at Palestinian intransigence to resume direct dialogue.

The European Union, which refers to itself as Israel's biggest trading partner, has also endorsed the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, calling on Israel to label products produced in Judea and Samaria, a decision that's not conducive to promoting trade.

There's also the meteoric rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, reminiscent of the days before the Nazi reign of terror, that's stimulating Jewish immigration from Europe, especially France and Belgium.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his desire to restart direct talks with the Palestinian Authority, appointing Vice Premier Silvan Shalom to replace former lead negotiator Tzipi Livni.

The P.A. immediately rebuffed the initiative, saying Netanyahu wasn't interested in peace. Why? Because he won't meet the P.A.'s preconditions, namely to uproot all Israelis living outside the pre-1967 armistice lines, to agree to the "right of return" of thousands of Arabs into a truncated Jewish state, to re-divide Jerusalem, and to release all Arabs serving time for terrorism, all non-starters for Israel.

Meanwhile, the P.A. is pressing the International Criminal Court at The Hague to indict Israel for alleged "war crimes" in last summer's military operation in the Gaza Strip.

In their action, the Palestinian leadership ignores what precipitated the decision to launch Operation Protective Edge -- dozens of daily rocket barrages, terror tunnels dug under Israel's border, sniper fire and bomb attacks on IDF patrols near the border.

There will likely be extensive media coverage of the European Union's efforts to revive direct talks between Israel and the P.A. But Israelis voted in March to put national security concerns at the top of the agenda, probably rendering the talks meaningless until Palestinian, European, and American leaders address them.

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