US, EU 'United' on Mideast peace efforts
EU Business (Link) (May 17, 2009)
The United States and the European Union are united in their demand that Israel and the Palestinians negotiate a two-state solution to their decades-old conflict, a senior French official said on Sunday.
Henri Guaino, a senior advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, told AFP that Washington and Europe were on the "same wavelength" a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet with US President Barack Obama.
"We are on exactly the same wavelength. The positions of Europe, France, and the United States have never been so close," he said.
"Everyone wants peace. The whole world wants a Palestinian state and does not want to start from scratch with regard to negotiations and their gains."
Netanyahu has not yet endorsed the principle of a two-state solution to the conflict, putting him on a collision course with Obama, who has vowed to actively pursue a peace deal that creates a Palestinian state.
"The United States' position is quite different from what it was several months ago, and Europe's position is clear," Guaino said. "There has never been so much reason to hope."
The Middle East Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia -- all endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state in 2003 with the so-called roadmap agreement, which has never been implemented.
Netanyahu's government has said it is still bound by the roadmap, but the new prime minister says he prefers to take measures to improve the economy in the occupied West Bank rather than hastening toward a final peace agreement.
Guaino, speaking on the sidelines of a symposium on Middle East security at Tel Aviv University, said all sides were at a "critical juncture."
"Paradoxically, the conditions have never been so good to find a solution because the world is ready to find a way out," he said.
The hawkish Netanyahu, who returned to the premiership on March 31 following elections in February, was expected to unveil his own "fresh" approach to resolving the conflict at the White House on Monday.