( dpa ) - The commissioner for European Union foreign policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, called for Israel to lift its travel restrictions on the Palestinians and for the Europeans to play a stronger role in the Mideast peace process. She said Israel and the Palestinians should develop a common plan for handing over security measures to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur Friday on the sidelines of a Bertelsmann Foundation event in Kronberg outside Frankfurt, Ferrero-Waldner said that it was essential for Palestinians to see improvements in their lives in the coming three months if the fledgling peace negotiations with Israel are to move forward. "Something must happen so that the people gain confidence in the peace talks," she said. In addition to economic help for the Palestinian territories, the Israeli travel restrictions and street blockades had to be lifted. "We must break through this vicious circle," Ferrero-Waldner said. On the one hand, Israel needs security. "On the other hand, the dynamics will only turn positive if we give the principle of hope a chance," she said. The Israelis should work together with the Palestinians to see how restrictions can be lifted little by little, so that responsibility for security gradually flows to the Palestinians, the commissioner said. She noted that Abbas was specifically working toward such a plan for the city of Nablus in the West Bank. Ferrero-Waldner urged a stronger role for the EU in the Mideast peace process. In addition to the financial support and help in reconstruction and building up security, the EU could play a role in monitoring the transfer of responsibility for security. The EU's special ties could be used in the process, she said. "We have a certain head start on the issue of trust with the Palestinians, while the Americans have the same head start with the Israelis," Ferrero-Waldner said.
EU commissioner: Israel should turn over security to Abbas
19 January 2008 10:25 (UTC+04:00)