E.U. seen holding off on Israel upgrade


The European Union is likely to turn down a request by Israel to upgrade bilateral relations.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is heading to Luxembourg next week to ask E.U. leaders to sign a joint declaration upgrading the Jewish state’s market ties with the 27-nation bloc.

But unnamed E.U. diplomats said Wednesday that Israel’s request would be turned down. Speaking to Reuters, one diplomat cited “the uncertainty of the situation on the ground in Israel and its immediate neighborhood.”

This appeared to be an allusion to the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking efforts.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wrote to Brussels last month urging the European Union not to upgrade its ties with Israel given its continued West Bank settlement activities.

After Fayyad’s letter came to light, Israel withheld the transfer of tax money collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

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