EU/Israel — Meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Remarks made by High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cather­ine Ash­ton after meet­ing with Israeli For­eign Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man
I am very pleased to be in Israel today. I just had a con­struc­tive and pro­duc­tive meet­ing with FM Lieber­man. This is my sec­ond vis­it to the region in my capac­i­ty as High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive/Vice- Pres­i­dent. Yes­ter­day I met with PM Fayyad and today I vis­it­ed Gaza and Sderot. I have also met with MoD Barak and will be meet­ing lat­er this evening PM Netanyahu.

There are three main objec­tives for my vis­it in Israel:

First, to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion in Gaza. I have wel­comed the new pol­i­cy of the Israeli gov­ern­ment as an impor­tant step for­ward.

As I have always said, Israel’s new pol­i­cy should improve the lives of the ordi­nary peo­ple of Gaza while address­ing the legit­i­mate secu­ri­ty con­cerns of Israel. The posi­tion of the EU is clear: the block­ade is unac­cept­able, unsus­tain­able and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. It is not in the inter­ests of any of those con­cerned.

If we can be of val­ue and the par­ties agree, the EU is ready to sup­port a smooth han­dling of goods at the cross­ings, based on to the Agree­ment on Move­ment and Access.

I ful­ly agree that Israel’s secu­ri­ty is of para­mount impor­tance in mov­ing ahead. I was in Sderot today and tomor­row morn­ing I will meet the fam­i­ly of Gilad Shalit and share with them my deep­est sym­pa­thy.

I can­not con­ceive of the ter­ri­ble pain that Avi­va and Noam Shalit have had to endure every­day of the four years since Gilad Shalit has been abduct­ed. Gilad must be released with­out delay and the Red Cross rep­re­sen­ta­tives must now be allowed to vis­it him.

Sec­ond, we have dis­cussed the peace process. I have lis­tened care­ful­ly to the posi­tions of both sides and hope a sat­is­fac­to­ry way can be found to pro­ceed to direct talks asap, which are now need­ed if one wish­es to make fur­ther progress in the nego­ti­a­tions for bring­ing an end to the con­flict. I have there­fore encour­aged both the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty and Israel to begin dis­cus­sions on all the final sta­tus issues, includ­ing secu­ri­ty, Jerusalem and bor­ders. The out­lines of a deal are very well known.

I believe we need to see con­fi­dence build­ing mea­sures and at the same time avoid mea­sures that under­mine the peace process. In this respect, I have to express my deep con­cern about recent set­tle­ment activ­i­ty in East Jerusalem.

My third objec­tive was to empha­size the strong bond between the EU and Israel. We have a sol­id and vibrant part­ner­ship in the frame­work of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy across an exten­sive range of sec­tors. There is a huge poten­tial to fur­ther devel­op these rela­tions. I have dis­cussed with Min­is­ter Lieber­man on how best to do this in the future.

Thank you.

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union