EU-commissioner Catherine Ashton visits Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 9.5.12. (Getty)
A number of prominent European ex-politicians and leaders have urged to leave the Oslo-process between Israel en the Palestinians and work out something new. In a letter to EU-commissioner Ashton they argue that the Oslo peace process has nothing more to offer and that it is time to conceive something new:
''We have watched with increasing disappointment over the past five years the failure of the parties to start any kind of productive discussion, and of the international community under American and/or European leadership to promote such discussion. We have also noted with frustration and deep concern the deteriorating standards of humanitarian and human rights care of the population in the Occupied Territories. The security and long-term stability of Israel, an essential objective in any process, cannot be assured in such conditions, any more than the legitimate rights and interests of the Palestinian people.
President Obama made some of these points during his March 2013 visit to the region, particularly in his address to the people of Israel, but he gave no indication of action to break the deep stagnation, nor any sign that he sought something other than the re-start of talks between West Bank and Israeli leaders under the Oslo Process, which lost its momentum long ago.
We are therefore appealing to you, and through you to the members of the Council of Ministers, to recognise that the Peace Process as conceived in the Oslo Agreements has nothing more to offer. Yet the present political stalemate, while the situation deteriorates on the ground, is unsustainable, given the disturbed politics of the region and the bitterness generated by the harsh conditions of life under the Occupation.''
The Eminent Persons Group gives a number of recommendations for a new approach, among which are the following:It is time to give a stark warning that the Occupation is actually being entrenched by the present Western policy. The Palestinian Authority cannot survive without leaning on Israeli security assistance and Western funding and, since the PA offers little hope of progress towards self-determination for the Palestinian people, it is fast losing respect and support from its domestic constituency. The steady increase in the extent and population of Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, and the entrenchment of Israeli control over the OT in defiance of international law, indicate a permanent trend towards a complete dislocation of Palestinian territorial rights.We have reached the conclusion that there must be a new approach. Letting the situation lie unaddressed is highly dangerous when such an explosive issue sits in such a turbulent environment.
- an explicit recognition that the current status of the Palestinian Territories is one of occupation, with responsibility for their condition falling under international law on the occupying state;
- an insistence that Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 lines are illegal, must cease being expanded and will not be recognised as one of the starting points in any new negotiations;
- a stipulation that any representative political organisation with a valid claim to participate in negotiations must renounce the use of violence outside established UN norms; a clearer willingness within the EU to play a political and not just a funding role and to resume a more strategic dialogue with the Palestinians.
- a vigorous international drive for the implementation of much improved humanitarian and human rights conditions in both the West Bank and Gaza, monitored by the United Nations, whatever the state of peace negotiations might be at any time.
The Eminent Persons Group is led by Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former UK Ambassador to the UN; Hubert Védrine, former French Foreign Minister; and Wolfgang Ischinger, former State Secretary of the German Foreign Ministry—representing the E.U. 3, the most powerful grouping in the bloc and one that leads on many foreign policy issues. Other signatories included former prime ministers of France Lionel Jospin, Former Prime Minister of Ireland John Bruton, Former Prime Minister of Italy Giuiliano Amato, Former Prime Ministre of the Netherlands Andreas van Agt, Former High Representative and Former NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana; Former president of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, and a host of other former foreign ministers and top government deputies, including veteran officials of multilateral groups like NATO and the E.U. itself. (Dutch ex-politicians that signed were, apart from former Prime Minister Van Agt, Frans Andriessen, Former Vice-President of the European Commission, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, former Vice-Prime Minister,and Hans van den Broek, former Netherlands Foreign Minister and Former EU Commissioner for External Relations).
(For the complete text of the letter, click here)