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Entries in European Union (3)


This Weekend on EA (19/20 December)

TOWN CRIERIran: Sunday's news has been dominated by the sudden death of 87 year-old Grand Ayatollah Montazeri and how the Regime is trying to deal with the challenges posed by his death, first by belittling his memory;  then by criticising the cleric. All the latest news is, as always, in our live weblogDemonstrations have been taking place honouring Montazeri's memory --- we've posted video from Tehran and Najafabad. We also flashback with a video to Montazeri's denunciation of the Supreme Leader in a speech in October.

Mehdi Karoubi has  responded in an open letter to the threat of arrest made by the head of Iran's judiciary, Sadegh Larijani .

Austin Heap, one of the most respected and prominent activists on the Internet and Iran, has written for EA explaining the attack on Twitter by the Iranian Cyber Army.

We analyse the Regime's attempts to amass thousands of their own supporters to in Friday's rally in Tehran, and we have video of nightime rooftop protests in Tehran.

Palestine: Following the dramatic article in Thursday's Guardian newspaper, EA analyses the story behind CIA support of Palestinian "torture".

Lebanon: Is Lebanese PM Hariri seeking to improve Lebanese-Syrian relations to better defend Lebanon against Israel?

Israel & Turkey: Can Israel and Turkey repair relations and leave behind the Gaza War behind? EA's Ali Yenidunya analyses.

Middle East: on Friday both the EU and the UN both criticised Israel over its settlement policy.

USA: One year into the Obama Presidency, EA's John Matlin writes in defence of the President.


Middle East Inside Line: Israel Criticised by EU and UN over Settlements Policy

CB015977On Friday, both the European Union and the United Nations criticized Israel for its settlement policy. The EU condemned the government's decision to include West Bank settlements in the the National Priority Map as a contradiction of its pledge for a 10-month moratorium. The Israeli Cabinet had voted on Sunday to include 120,000 settlers, living in 86 out of the 121 settlements, in the Map; many of the settlements are outside the security barrier being constructed by Israel in the occupied West Bank territory.

The Swedish Presidency of the EU declared, "This decision runs counter to the spirit of the settlement freeze. It also prevents the creation of an atmosphere conducive to resuming negotiations on a two-state solution." In response, Israel's Foreign Ministry said the EU's position was exacerbating the disagreement between the two sides, instead of promoting peace and working towards the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Palestine Inside Line: Hamas Moves to “Liberation” of West Bank from Abbas and Israel

This was not the end of a bad day for the officials in Israel. Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, criticised the 10-month moratorium, claiming the temporary freeze in the settlements undermined Israel's commitments in the 2003 Road Map. He added:

We are in a race against time to overcome the contradictions on the ground, and the crisis of confidence between the parties, and move decisively toward a political endgame.

The situation is serious. We need, we urgently need, to see some progress in the new year. We continue to appeal to the government of Israel to allow the United Nations actually to start doing some real reconstruction, genuine reconstruction, in Gaza. UN agencies are doing what they can to help the population in the coming winter.

Serry was also critical of Israel's linkage of the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier detained by Hamas, and its Gaza policy:
I am hopeful, if he is released, we will be able to immediately resume these projects. Israel is publicly on record that as long as Schalit is not released, they are not willing to allow significant amounts of construction materials in. Let me add here that this linkage is not accepted by the UN.

Israel-Palestine: European Union Steps In With Call for Peace Talks and Israeli Concessions

eu-israel_001A draft document, to be discussed by EU foreign ministers next week, says that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state compromised of Gaza and the West Bank. It also says that the EU did not recognise Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem.

The draft says that settlements, Israel's separation barrier and the demolition of Palestinian houses are "illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible". Israel's long-running economic blockade of Gaza was "unacceptable" under international law and "politically counterproductive."

Striking a contrasting tone, the draft states that the EU says it hopes the 10-month partial settlement freeze "will become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations" and welcomed Israel's removal of some of its hundreds of checkpoints and obstacles in the West Bank.

Israeli officials were quick to criticise the EU. The Foreign Ministry said:
The move led by Sweden damages the ability of the European Union to take a role and be a significant factor in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
After the important steps taken by the government of Israel to enable the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians, the European Union must now exert pressure on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Steps like those being led by Sweden only contribute to the opposite effect.