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Sarah speaks to the European Parliament about the Middle East conflict

December 16, 2009 6:00 PM
By Sarah Ludford MEP in European Parliament

Sarah Ludford (ALDE). - Mr President, the Council conclusion is indeed a welcome vigorous statement of the EU position and its intention to play a much stronger role in a reinvigorated Quartet engagement. Do the Council and Commission therefore agree that the approach urged on it by some, which is to boycott Israel, is completely the wrong route to that engagement? You cannot boycott and engage at the same time. Indeed, the right approach is the one also stressed by the Council conclusions, which is to reaffirm the further development of bilateral relations with Israel. However tempting it is, the Council can only be an influential player politically, as well as with economic support, if it resists the temptations - motivated sometimes by frustration at one or other of the parties - to have some sort of sanctions or punish one or the other. It is too complex a situation and it simply undermines a consistent, coherent EU pressure on both parties to get back to the table and have a peace agreement.