Jerusalem, Dec. 22 – The European Union member states that sit on the United Nations Security Council must support the resumption of direct peace talks, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on Thursday.
The release followed criticism of Israel’s West Bank housing policy by the United Kingdom, France, Portugal and Germany on Tuesday.
Israel has long maintained that the issue can and will be addressed during direct negotiations with the Palestinians. However, Palestinian negotiators walked away from peace talks more than a year ago and are refusing to return, despite pleas from the Middle East peace Quartet.
The Quartet – Russia, the United States, U.N. and European Union – has repeatedly urged both sides to talk face to face.
It is an approach welcomed in Israel as outlined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in September:
“The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn't respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn't respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But again - no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever."