EU mulls steps if Mideast peace fails

Dec. 4, 2013 at 7:04 AM

BRUSSELS, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Israel and the Palestinian Authority could suffer if peace negotiations fail to yield an agreement, a European Union official warned.

If peace talks fail, the EU will take action against West Bank settlement products and halt financial assistance to the Palestinians, the Jerusalem Post and Ynetnews.com quoted a senior European official as telling Israeli reporters in Brussels Tuesday.

Since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords that were to have paved the way for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, the EU has contributed annually 300 million euros ($407.3 million) to the Palestinian Authority. If the EU decides to halt the funds, it could cause the government to collapse, Haaretz said.

"Some people suggested giving the money to other countries like Syria, Mali and other places around the world. ... What is the money for if a Palestinian state is not established?" Haaretz quoted the official as saying.

The official noted if Israel and the Palestinians fail to reach a peace agreement within the allotted nine months, "14 out of 28 [countries] support labeling West Bank settlement products," the Post said. This could lead to a widespread boycott of Israeli products manufactured in West Bank settlements.

The European official's comments came on the eve of yet another visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to move the peace talks forward.

Kerry was to arrive in Israel Wednesday and meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday, Haaretz said.

Kerry intends to discuss with Netanyahu a proposed plan for security arrangements in the West Bank following the establishment of a Palestinian state, Haaretz said.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators continue to meet twice a week, but no progress has been reported, with the sides instead hurling accusations, Haaretz said.

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