The EU's top diplomat has met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during a 24-hour visit. The trip is aimed at establishing the EU's role in reviving a bilateral peace process.
EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah Wednesday afternoon before continuing to Jerusalem in the evening for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mogherini said at an EU foreign minister meeting on Monday in Brussels that the EU was aiming to seek a more active role in establishing peace in the region with a two-state deal between Israel and Palestine.
"The European Union is ready and willing to play a major role in a re-launching of this process on the basis of the two-state solution," she told reporters on Monday.
It is Mogherini's first visit to the region since Netanyahu formed Israel's right-leaning coalition government earlier this month. It followed Netanyahu suspending a controversial plan from within his own government to segregate Palestinians from Israelis on buses in the West Bank.
"One thing is clear to everyone in the region," said Mogherini, "the status quo is not an option."
Reaching for a two-state solution
Abbas said during the afternoon meeting with Mogherini at his West Bank headquarters that the new Netanyahu government posed a threat to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
"All of our efforts now are to save the two-state solution from an Israeli government that chose settlements," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat quoted Abbas as saying.
Appearing in front of reporters ahead of an evening meeting with Mogherini, Netanyahu restated his vision of a peace deal, saying that he hoped to discuss with Mogherini how to "advance that vision forward."
"I don't support a one-state solution, I don't believe that's a solution at all, I support the vision of two states for two peoples - a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state" he said.
"I believe your recommitment tonight to work on peace and security," Mogherini responded.
Extending EU diplomacy
Since entering into office as the EU's foreign policy head six months ago, the former Italian foreign minister has made efforts to reestablish the EU's position as an arbiter in Middle East
"My very early visit has a political meaning," Mogherini said in Brussels on Monday.
According to Reuters news agency, Mogherini sees a chance for EU diplomacy and is seeking to leverage Europe's position as Israel's biggest trade partner, while also being the primary source of Palestinian aid. The EU continues to maintain a tough stance against Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians.
wr/bw AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa