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E.U. official to Jewish leaders: Group has not become pro-Arab

BRUSSELS, March 25 (JTA) — A senior European official is attempting to convince European Jewish leaders that the European Union has not become pro-Arab. Speaking last week at a conference here about the peace process, Manuel Marin, the European commissioner in charge of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean affairs, said the European Union “wants peace, only peace.” “We are not pro-Israeli, nor pro-Arab,” he added, attempting to dispel the growing perception that E.U. policies had taken a pro-Arab slant. Joining European Jewish officials at the conference were Israeli politicians as well as representatives from Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Marin asked European Jewish communities to “help us pass on the message that the European Union is not against the Israelis.” “We are not playing the Israelis against the Arabs,” as had “perhaps been suggested by the press,” he said. Marin said the European Union, which is the largest foreign donor to the Palestinian Authority, had made “tremendous financial and economic efforts” to help the Middle East peace process. He also voiced E.U. concerns about the current crisis in Israeli- Palestinian relations.