Ministers in the European Union have given a cautious welcome to words from the Israeli Prime Minister, saying he will accept a Palestinian state.
Benjamin Netanyahu attached numerous conditions to Palestinian statehood, but has for the first time endorsed the possibility, in theory at least, of the two-state solution supported by the EU and America. ‘If we receive this guarantee for demilitarisation and security arrangements required by Israel, and if the Palestinians recognise Israel as the nation of the Jewish people, we will be prepared for a true peace agreement and to reach a solution of a demilitarised Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state,’ he said. For EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg, the fact that Netanyahu even uttered the words ‘Palestinian state’ was a step forward, but was not the whole story. Sweden’s Carl Bildt said: “That’s good but it’s only the first step. A state can’t be defined as anything, and whether what he mentioned can be defined as a state I think is the subject of some debate.” There was no sign that the speech was enough for the EU to restart the process of upgrading ties with Israel. Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief said: “I think, in the speech, there are things that are very important. I think that the government of Likud recognising formally the two-state solution is quite a step in the right direction. The other things which were said in the speech, that (sic) to my mind belong more to another phase of the negotiation.”