New EU envoy says lull in terror ‘not enough’

By David Horovitz March 21, 2005

EU is ‘a friend of Israel and a friend of peace’

Praising Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas as ‘a man of peace,’ and complimenting him on achieving a ‘temporary neutralization’ of terrorism, the European Union’s new ambassador here nonetheless stressed Sunday that a short-term lull was insufficient and that for peace to flourish the Palestinian leadership had to be ‘proactive’ in the battle against the bombers.

He also said that, ideally, Jews who wanted to stay on in a Gaza that became part of a sovereign Palestinian state should be allowed to do so, but that the current security situation made this impossible.

In an interview ahead of his formal presentation of credentials to President Moshe Katsav on Monday, the new envoy, Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal, said that the EU he represented was ‘a friend of Israel and a friend of peace’ and that its support for two states, Israel and Palestine, ‘living together in peace, prosperity and security,’ was a position that demonstrated Europe’s ‘balanced’ and ‘non-biased’ approach to the Middle East.

He said the EU, and he personally, had ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism, but that eliminating it ‘is not simple.’

Abbas, he said, ‘is making progress. For the time being he has managed to achieve a cessation of violence… There is a temporary neutralization of terrorist activities against Israel. It’s not enough. The final result has to be a situation in which terrorism completely disappears from the area of activities that receive any kind of understanding and tolerance.’

He said Israel had a vital role to play in enabling Abbas to prevail, together with the US and the EU. Listing a register of means to combat the extremists, he plainly empathized with Abbas by highlighting ‘persuasion, compromise and negotiation.’ But, he also added, ‘at the end of the day, coercion and confrontation may be necessary if other measures are exhausted.’

What was crucial, he said, was for the PA to take ‘the necessary steps, the necessary actions.’ The desired situation was one in which if there were a terrorist attack, ‘a terrible thing,’ then ‘the guilty persons are brought to justice together by Israel and the PA. There will be peace and stability and security when… terrorists know that if they commit attacks they will have to face prosecution in Israel and the PA.’

Careful but candid in his remarks, Cibrian-Uzal said he considered the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to be ‘a problem of two peoples having claim to the same territory, and not having found, so far, a way to compromise on the legitimate claim that both sides have.’

‘The assertion of the claim in recent decades has gone better for the Jewish people than for the Palestinian people,’ he added, ‘and that can lead people to desperation.’ But such desperation, he stressed, was no justification for terrorism.

While it was ‘nonsense and naive to say that good ends never justify bad means,’ he went on, such ‘bad means’ were justified in pursuing legitimate objectives ‘only after you have explored and exhausted all the alternative, less bad, means.’ He spoke with empathy for Israel’s careful weighing of ‘hard means’ to retaliate for acts of terrorism.

His message to Middle East terrorists, he said, was that ‘there are other, less bad, means available. Indeed, there are peaceful means available which one has the moral obligation to use. There is no justification for terrorism, and that is valid for Madrid, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.’

The ambassador added that one might be ‘prepared to sacrifice your life and the lives of the enemy if you are forced to capitulate. But that is not the perspective here. Israel’s policies have never required a capitulation of the Palestinian side. Palestinian radicals must understand that here there are two sides with legitimate claims whose resolution requires compromise.’

Speaking just days after Israeli officials derided a report by the EU’s anti-fraud squad that found ‘no conclusive evidence’ linking EU funds to Palestinian terrorism, Cibrian-Uzal robustly restated the EU’s insistence that ‘the idea that the EU would be financing the PA and, through it, terrorism against Israel is preposterous.’

Still, he acknowledged that ‘there was plenty of room for improvement, improved transparency’ in the management of funds by the late PA chairman Yasser Arafat. Asked to elaborate, however, the ambassador would not be drawn, stating that ‘the Arafat chapter is closed.’

Addressing the issue of Gaza’s Jewish settlers, the ambassador said it would be ‘a commendable scenario’ if Jews could live as full citizens under Palestinian sovereignty but that ‘the security situation in Gaza doesn’t allow it today… The EU has always insisted on the full rights of minorities everywhere.’ The goal, he said, should be to create a situation under which such a vision was not so dangerous.

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