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EU states differ on Israel relations

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — There are differences within the European Union on the development of relations with Israel, its current presidency said.

Many of the differences stem from the contrasting views of the Czech EU presidency and the European Commission, according to the Prague Daily Monitor.

The newspaper cited outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek’s recent criticism of the European Commission. Topolanek said he viewed a statement by EU foreign policy commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner that EU relations with Israel would improve only if Israel pledges to continue peace talks as an example of the "European Commission’s arrogance."

Following an EU foreign ministers’ monthly meeting Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said that although there were differences between the Czech EU presidency and the European Commission, the situation had "escalated quite unnecessarily," the Daily Monitor reported.

The European Union agreed last year to raise its relations with Israel to a higher level, but froze the new initiative in the wake of the Gaza military operation early this year.

Schwarzenberg, on behalf of the EU, on Monday called on Israel and the Palestinians to take "urgent steps" to resume the peace process and reaffirmed the EU’s support for a two-state solution.
 

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