Britain and Balkan states block European Council from adopting Paris declaration

In second failure of Paris conference efforts in two days, Britain and Balkan states block EU from adopting Paris conference declaration; Council rejects moving US Embassy to Jerusalem

Unknown.jpeg

Britain and Balkan states on Monday blocked the European Union from adopting the declaration made during the Paris Middle East Peace Conference.

During a meeting between 28 foreign ministers at the Council of the European Union, France reportedly pressed for the Council to adopt both UN Security Council Resolution 2334 as well as adopt the declaration made at the Paris conference. Britain, Hungary, Lithuania and Balkan states rejected the declaration, blocking the Council from adopting both.

Britain has taken diplomatic steps in rejecting the Paris conference’s conclusions and recommendations, stating following the meeting that “We will continue to support efforts to improve conditions on the ground to enable negotiations to resume and look forward to working with the parties, the new US Administration and other countries represented in this conference to make progress in 2017 and beyond.”

The United Kingdom also sent junior diplomats to the conference and did not sign the conference’s declaration, attending the conference as observers and not participants.

Prior to the conference, Britain’s Foreign Office stated that it had “particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them”, emphasizing the conference “taking place against the wishes of the Israelis” as well as it taking “place just days before the transition to a new American President when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement”. Ahead of the conference, President-elect Donald Trump reportedly called on the United Kingdom to veto any attempted resolutions against the State of Israel at the United Nations Security Council meeting Tuesday ahead of Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

The declaration created during the conference called on both Israel and the Palestinians to “officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution” as well as for Israeli to halt settlement growth.

Participants from the conference called for “each side to independently demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution and refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of negotiations on final status issues, including, inter alia, on Jerusalem, borders, security, refugees and which they will not recognize” and also to “welcome the prospect of closer cooperation between the Quartet and Arab League members and other relevant actors to further the objectives of this Declaration.”

During the meeting of the Council Monday, foreign ministers strongly opposed moving the United States’ Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President-elect Donald Trump has remained committed to moving the embassy, stating it would be one of the first things he does as president.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini echoed France’s stance on Jerusalem made during the Paris Conference that “It is very important for us all to refrain from unilateral actions, especially those that can have serious consequences in large sectors of public opinion in large parts of the world,” adding “We hope that there can be reflection on consequences of any move that is taken,” in reference to the Trump Administration.

She also affirmed that the EU would not move its representation to Jerusalem, stating, “We will for sure not move our delegation. That is in Tel Aviv.”