EU's Ashton stands by Kerry's Mideast plans

June 20, 2013 at 1:36 PM

JERUSALEM, June 20 (UPI) -- The European Union is committed to supporting U.S. efforts to breathe new life into the Middle East peace process, the EU foreign policy chief said Thursday.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton met Thursday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. She said she was there in support of initiatives outlined by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to restart the stalled peace process.

"I'm fully supportive of his work," she said in a statement. "Europe will support that wholeheartedly."

Kerry visited the region last month to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres. Kerry said was convinced the time was right to press for peace even though "it's not on the tip of everybody's tongue."

Nathan Stock, assistant director of a conflict resolution center at U.S. think tank Carter Center, told the U.N. Security Council political dynamics in the United States made it difficult to embrace a even-handed policy on the issue. The Israeli lobby is considered highly influential in U.S. politics.

Stock said the chance for success depends on whether or not President Obama decides to use the full powers of office to push for the creation of a Palestinian state

Stock said, however, putting pressure on Israel would be "extremely politically costly."

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