Top EU diplomat calls for Palestinian state within 5 years

Ahead of her visit Friday, Federica Mogherini says actors in the region ‘need the European Union to be present to make steps forward’

The European Union’s new foreign policy chief called for the creation of a Palestinian state within the five years of her term, and announced that the EU intends to play a more influential role in the Middle East than it has in the past.

“What’s important for me is not whether other countries, be they European or not, recognize Palestine,” Federica Mogherini told the European press in comments published Tuesday, referring to Sweden’s recent recognition of a Palestinian state. “I’d be happy if, during my mandate, the Palestinian state existed.”

This weekend, she is scheduled to arrive in Israel and the Palestinian territories for her first official visit. During her two-day trip, she will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, President Reuven Rivlin, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and the chief peace negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. She is also expected to travel to Ramallah and the Gaza Strip, where she will meet with senior Palestinian officials.

Mogherini gave interviews to five European newspapers — Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian, La Stampa, El Pais and Gazeta Wyborcza — this week, marking her first public comments in her new position.

“I want to forge a strategy, a vision and a common policy but I know the limits of this exercise: the question of recognition of a state is the competence of the member states,” she told the papers.

“But I surely intend to use the union’s political potential in this region. That’s why my first visit will be to Israel and Palestine at the end of this week. European action can be decisive during this important moment, probably the most difficult the region has ever seen.”

Europe cannot eternally be a payer without playing a political role, Mogherini said. Therefore, the EU intends to adopt a broad regional approach to the Middle East, seeing a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a wider reconciliation of the Arab world with the Jewish state, she said.

“It will, in fact, be difficult to guarantee the security for this country [Israel] without a broader framework involving Arab countries. And an overall agreement of this kind would facilitate the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” she said.

Full article: Top EU diplomat calls for Palestinian state within 5 years (The Times of Israel)

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